What is distress?

We've all experienced feeling distressed, but why does it happen? 

A sense of distress occurs when we feel that we cannot meet a demand placed upon us. For example, having lots to think about at once or being in a situation that we can't control might cause us to experience feelings associated with distress.

Symptoms of distress

Physical and behavioural symptoms of distress

  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilating
  • Tired all the time
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Chest pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Feeling sick, dizzy or faint
  • Sexual problems
  • Snapping at people
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling restless
  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Feeling tearful

Mental symptoms of distress

  • Irritable or aggressive
  • A sense of being overwhelmed
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid
  • Getting no pleasure out of life
  • A sense of dread
  • Unable to switch off
  • Worried about your health

How you can do to manage distress

Experiencing distress is part of life, but that doesn't mean it has to control your life.

A range of therapies has been shown to help people manage distress. Whatever your situation and whatever your signs of distress are, Nuffield Health can offer you support.

You've probably also heard of terms such as depression and anxiety. These are types of distress and vary in severity.