How To Spot the Physical Signs of Emotional Distress


It’s very common to experience signs of stress when a crisis happens. Not only can an accident result in injury, but there may be mental health and emotional repercussions. Anyone involved in an accident or who is a witness can experience some degree of stress. Many of these associated symptoms will resolve on their own with time, but some people will deal with a long-term stress disorder that requires professional help. 

An accident attorney can help you create a claim that covers all your needs so you can focus on healing. If you suspect that someone you know is dealing with emotional distress and you want to help, here are some physical signs to watch out for.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a state of anguish that can exist in your mind, resulting from a specific circumstance, memory, or pattern of events. This distress can present itself in various ways, from mental health struggles to physical symptoms. Most people are aware of the physical toll of an accident but may not understand the emotional toll.

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What Are Physical Symptoms of Emotional Distress

Feeling some degree of emotional suffering can result in your body expressing this pent-up trauma. Symptoms will vary from one person to the next but can include the following:

  • Physical panic
  • Sleeping too much or lack of sleep
  • Crying spells
  • Changes in appetite
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Physical isolation from familiar people
  • Withdrawing from certain activities
  • Angry outbursts
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed reaction time
  • An increase in pain that cannot be explained by injury

It’s important to note that many of these symptoms will come and go over many weeks or months. One day may seem perfectly normal, and another day may unexpectedly bring about one or many symptoms. 

There’s no real pattern when it comes to trauma and emotional distress. It can present itself randomly. When left unaddressed and untreated, these physical symptoms can manifest into severe mental health situations. It’s essential to seek help when you or someone you know is dealing with emotional distress.

What Are the Risk Factors of Emotional Distress?

Any person of any age and any gender can experience emotional distress. Some people are more at risk of emotional distress than others. For example, first responders and medical professionals can see some pretty overwhelming situations on the clock. It’s hard to go home and leave that distress behind. In these professional scenarios, it’s essential to receive regular counseling or support to work through any emotional distress that’s present.

Some adults are at higher risk of experiencing symptoms of emotional distress. This can include:

  • Exposure to previous trauma or emotional stress
  • Experiencing symptoms of PTSD previously
  • Having been diagnosed with a mental health issue
  • Experiencing chronic discrimination or social challenges
  • Survivors of previous disasters or traumatic events
  • People with chronic illness or issues with mobility

Is Emotional Distress Common After an Accident?


It’s extremely common for a person to experience emotional distress after being involved in or witnessing an incident. The severity of the situation will often determine how severe the symptoms are.

Someone who has seen a person die or sustain severe injuries will often have flashbacks and nightmares where they replay the situation repeatedly in their minds. They may also experience anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A variety of physical symptoms can occur.

Though this distress is a common experience, many people don’t receive the proper help that they need to overcome this distress and trauma. There are plenty of resources available to cope with symptoms and move on from what happened.

What Are Ways to Cope with Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a challenging situation, but there are ways that you can work through what you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional that can help you through your trauma. There are some other ways you can cope, including:

1. Physical Activity

Exercise is a powerful tool that gets your happy hormones flowing and can be a great way to release any pent-up frustration, anxiety, or sadness. Clear your mind with at least thirty minutes of physical activity each day.

2. Journaling

Journaling provides you with an outlet for your thoughts that’s personal and private. It can help you work through what’s going on in your head, put it into words, and reflect on it. Set aside some time each day to journal, express your thoughts on paper, and then go about the rest of your day.

3. Personal Connections

Make sure that you rely on the people around you for support. These people could be your spouse, family members, or good friends. Share what you’re feeling. Getting it out in the open can often be an ice breaker that makes you feel better about what you’re going through.

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When Should You Seek Help for Emotional Distress?

As soon as you notice that you’re experiencing symptoms of emotional distress that are interfering with everyday life, reach out for help. There are many different professionals that can counsel you and teach you tools for working through your emotions.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a potential lawsuit relating to the incident they were involved in, having knowledgeable and professional representation can make all the difference. Reach out to Adam Kutner, Injury Attorneys, if you would like more information or would like to set up an appointment with our staff.