Emotional Distress: Meaning and Definition

A broad word, "emotional distress," can be used to describe a wide range of symptoms from numerous mental health conditions. Nonetheless, even if a person does not fulfil the criteria for a psychiatric disorder, they can still feel emotional pain. Symptoms and experiences of a person's inner life that are typically regarded as disturbing, perplexing, or unusual are included in the category of mental discomfort.

What is the Meaning of Emotional Distress?

A typical response to the stresses of daily life is stress. Fear, anger, sadness, worry, and other emotions are all common emotional distress. All of them are a part of life. Although these feelings are accompanied by tension, that stress becomes unhealthy if it prevents you from doing the things you need or wants to do.

A condition of emotional pain is called emotional distress. Verified Source. The symptoms of anxiety and sadness are the characteristics of the phrase, although it covers a wide spectrum of symptoms. It can strike at any time, and it often lasts only a short while.

Mental discomfort has the capacity to modify a person's conduct, have a negative impact on their emotions, and harm their relationships with those around them. All of these emotions worry, fear, anger, and sadness are normal and healthy until they get in the way of what you need to do or want to do. You can control your emotional stress using a variety of management approaches. See a counsellor or mental health professional for assistance if you've tried several methods but are still feeling stressed out or stuck.

Sign of Emotional Distress

As previously said, emotional stress can cause both mental and physical symptoms. Examples of emotional stress can range from some to all of the following.

Feeling Overwhelmed

Life can seem overwhelming if you're continuously exhibiting signs of stress. You can feel jittery or on edge as a result of emotional stress. When things don't go according to plan, you could overreact. You may find it challenging to put your ideas into order or come up with solutions.

Difficulty Concentrating

Stress is known to cause attention problems and to be distracting. Every time you try to focus on a task when you're under stress, your thoughts can keep going back to your anxieties. It might be challenging to pay attention to what others are saying and what is going on in your immediate environment.

Anxiety and Depression

According to research, people who encounter higher levels of stress frequently struggle with depression and anxiety. You may have severe, disruptive, and ongoing sensations of dread, anxiety, and despair as a result of emotional stress. These emotions may intensify your stress and exacerbate your symptoms.

Mood Swings

Tension is unpleasant. According to research, stress directly affects mood. Your mood may instantly alter as a result. You can be having a good time one second, and the next you might feel a great deal of melancholy, dread, or another emotion.


According to some studies, those who experience prolonged stress are more prone to experience chronic headaches. A stressful event frequently precedes and causes a headache. Emotional stress may also raise the likelihood of migraine and tension headaches, according to the same research.

Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Eating patterns may be directly impacted by stress. When under stress, some people eat high-calorie, high-fat foods, while others may skip meals entirely. Emotional stress can make you lose or gain weight noticeably over time, frequently over a short period of time. Numerous studies have connected stress to weight gain.

How To Avoid Emotional Distress

Possibly one of the best methods to prevent mental distress is to avoid the people, places, and circumstances that cause it. This entails associating with upbeat individuals, maintaining healthy relationships, and spending time in inspiring surroundings.

Yet, avoiding those who cause emotional anguish may be easier said than done. Some relationships start healthy but eventually turn toxic, for example. In other cases, the person's workplace may be the cause of their emotional suffering. This may lead to issues that get out of hand very quickly.

Leaving behind places or people that one has grown accustomed to or invested in can be challenging. But over time, the negative impacts of emotional strain can outweigh any apparent advantages of being involved in these settings. Knowing when to implement and accept change may be one of the best choices someone can make. Sometimes it's necessary to close some doors so that better ones can open.

Work To Achieve Happiness

Work towards happiness as one of your main defences against mental distress. Although it may be easier said than done, happiness is a state of mind that can be attained with focus and perseverance. Yet there are a lot of false beliefs about happiness.

Many people believe that things like money, prestige, popularity, attention from others, and a job title will instantly make them happy people. But people or other forces cannot provide true happiness. Individual lifestyle choices, behaviours, and habits can be used as tools to help people find pleasure. There is no one-size-fits-all cure for emotional misery, but there are ways for people to overcome it and take advantage of the positive aspects of a contented existence.


The defendant bears a heavy burden of proof under the tort of emotional distress. The mitigation doctrine should be extended to include emotional anguish in order to eliminate disproportionate liability for the defendant.

Hence, the plaintiff should not be compensated for damages that could have been prevented by exercising reasonable caution before receiving injuries. This guideline also makes an effort to restrict the common tendency for people to recline with their hands folded when they have a cushion of insurance.

Frequently Asked Question

Q1. Is emotional distress a crime?

Ans. The act of intentionally causing emotional distress is one that is so horrible and absurd that it seriously harms the victim. IIED is regarded as a civil tort under the law. A civil tort is an action or omission that puts another person in danger and makes the perpetrator legally liable.

Q2. Which IPC section is for emotional distress?

Ans. According to section 294 of the Indian Criminal Code, the perpetrator would be charged and might face up to three years in prison, a fine, or both.

Q3. Is emotional distress mental health?

Ans. Although emotional discomfort isn't a mental health diagnosis, it can still feel overwhelming, Clements adds. It might feel so overpowering that you may find it difficult to manage your daily activities.

Q4. Can we file a case for mental harassment?

Ans. The following procedure can be used to report mental harassment: Under the relevant IPC, 1860 provisions listed below, an aggrieved party may register an FIR. Under Section 12 of the DV Act, 2005, a complaint application may be made to the Magistrate.

Q5. What to do if someone is torturing you mentally?

Ans. You can report something to the police at the closest station, and they will keep a record of what you say. The police will be aware of the abuse you are undergoing, and they will also have access to all the data and evidence needed for further investigation. Your wife won't be able to accuse you of anything you didn't do.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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