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Feelings of Distress

Updated on June 26, 2013


Stress, Panic, Anxiety, PTSD on any level can cause feelings of emotional distress and physical responses that create feelings of discomfort.

What is stress?

What is anxiety?

What is a panic attack?

What is post traumatic stress disorder?

Stress is a reaction to a specific situation that may be occurring over a short period of time or long term. Stress can cause you to become irritable, tired, lose concentration, and interfere with your physical well being. It is difficult to quantify stress because it is one individual’s reaction may be entirely different than another’s and what one person finds stressful, someone else may not.

Stress can affect you physically, emotionally, and your thoughts and reactions. The correlation between stress and health is well documented. Many physical ailments exist and are exacerbated by stress. It is always good to get a check up by your medical doctor, but if there are no medical explanations for the symptoms, stress may be a major factor.

Emotional Distress

Feelings of emotional distress can affect many aspects of a person's daily activities.
Feelings of emotional distress can affect many aspects of a person's daily activities. | Source


Stress symptoms have a physical manifestation and affect your body, feelings and behavior. From headaches to insomnia, from stomach discomforts to a backache, your body is telling you that it feels overloaded emotionally through physical pain.

It is important to recognize these symptoms so you can manage them better. If you ignore them, you can suffer from increased health problems including high blood pressure, obesity, heart and cardiovascular problems, and diabetes. Stress can affect your sex drive, your energy levels, and your ability to think clearly.

Stress can lower your immune system from getting a cold to other more serious ailments. Stress can make you bite your nails and/or increase your drug, smoking and alcohol use. You might break out into cold sweats, an asthma attack, or you might be prone to having a panic attack.


Have you ever suffered from post traumatic stress disorder?

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety disorder that people suffer from after experiencing a traumatic event. In their minds, the person has intrusive thoughts the make them relive the events.

People with PTSD have flashbacks, memories, and nightmares that affect their daily existence. Feelings of anxiety can be so intense, it can disrupt their lives and the people who are close to them.

A panic attack is a sudden, unexpected, overwhelming feeling of fear that overtakes the entirety of a person. The attack brings on many physical symptoms that makes the person feel like they are going crazy, or in danger. A panic attack is disabling to the person and because it comes on without warning, the person doesn’t know what triggers it, and can have another panic attack, for fear of having a panic attack.

When a person has an irrational fear of something, a sense of feeling endangered or a fear of being harm, that person may have a phobia. Sometimes these phobic situations can turn into a full scale anxiety attack.

Excessive Worrying and Phobias

Anxiety can be characterized emotionally by excessive worries, nervousness, tenseness, recurring intrusive thoughts, fears, avoidance, occurring for a period of longer than 6 months.

Phobic disorders are intense, persistent, and recurrent fear of certain objects (such as snakes, spiders, blood) or situations (such as heights, speaking in front of a group, public places). These exposures may trigger a panic attack. Social phobia and agoraphobia are examples of phobic disorders.

Stress and Distress

Everyone handles stress differently
Everyone handles stress differently | Source

How We React to Stress

Any type of stress attack will cause the body to react. When we feel afraid, it causes a physiological reaction that stimulates hormones to be released and ready the person for the flight or fight response. These hormones cause a chain reaction of biochemical changes that exhibit symptoms and feelings that make a person experience certain emotional and physical sensations.

  • an overwhelming feeling of fear

  • a feeling that something horrible is about to happen - of impending doom and danger

  • a feeling that you need to escape

  • you look pale

  • Blanching, turning white, looking pale

  • Blushing, skin blotches, turning red

  • Burning skin

  • Choking sensation, tightening throat, it feels like your throat is closing

  • Confusion

  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from one-self, separate from normal emotions)

  • Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness

  • Emotional distress

  • Emotional upset

  • Fear of going crazy

  • Fear of losing control, freaking out

  • Fearful thoughts that seem incessant

  • Feels like there is a tight band around your head

  • Hot or cold chills

  • Inability to calm yourself down

  • Knot in the stomach, tight stomach

  • Nausea

  • Numbness, tingling sensations in any part of the body

  • Panicky feeling

  • Pins and needles feeling

  • Plugged ear(s), stuffed ear(s)

  • Pounding heart

  • Racing heart

  • Shooting pains in the chest, neck, shoulder, head, or face

  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing

  • Sweating

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Trembling, shaking (visibly shaking or just trembling on the inside)

  • Upset stomach

  • Urgent desire to go to the bathroom (urinate, defecate)

  • Vomiting

There is a long list of anxiety symptoms. But because each person is somewhat chemically unique, anxiety affects each person differently. Anxiety attack are not dangerous, only uncomfortable. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and you may have one or many. They can occur sporadically, frequently, or persistently, with many combinations possible.

Have You Ever Had an Anxiety Attack

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It is important to find ways to relax and unwind.
It is important to find ways to relax and unwind. | Source

Symptoms of Emotional Distress

It is a normal aspect to feel worried, tense, pressured, and scared in stressful, unfamilar, or overwhelming situations. Anxiety is a natural response to feeling threatened or in danger and sets off series of physical reactions to alert and ready the body for action. When anxiety is extreme, a person may have an anxiety attack that can interfere with a person’s functioning, daily activities, and relationships.

Aside from the physical symptoms, there may be some personality and mood changes that accompany emotional distress.

  • Do you have difficulty controlling your anger?

  • Are you exhibiting compulsive or obsessive behaviors?

  • Do you lack energy, are you chronically tired?

  • Are you having memory problems?

  • Are you avoiding social situations?

  • Is your sex desire low?

  • Are you having mood swings?

Reactions to stress vary from person to person. Some people will react to situations by having an intense anxiety attack that occurs with no warning. Someone else may freeze when they find out they have to give a speech to a crowd of people. Some people are burdened with constant thoughts of worry. Some may not be able to drive across a bridge. Although there are different forms of anxiety and reaction to stress, they have a major symptom in common. Each person fears something about the situation or has excessive worries where most people would not feel such threats.

Stress and You

It is very important to take time to relax and to keep the stresses that you encounter in perspective. There are many reasons that stress has been shown to have detrimental effects. Stress is unavoidable. You can learn to control your reaction. The more you understand what is happening to you when you are faced to stress, the more you can help yourself.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Knowing what stressor one has can help a lot. Managing the stressor becomes easier.


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