5 Emotional Distress Symptoms

When people feel poorly, they generally look for physical reasons why that should be the case. However, if you’re experiencing emotional distress, that can physically impact you.

There are lots of reasons why you might feel like you’re emotionally distressed. Maybe you had a parent die recently, or a spouse. Perhaps a pet died, or you had a miscarriage. Maybe you lost your job.

In 2020, more people feel emotionally distressed than ever because of Covid-19. Whatever the situation may be, you should understand how emotional distress can impact your physical health.

Here are five symptoms that you could develop.


One thing you might experience because of emotional distress would be headaches. Headaches:

  • Can start suddenly
  • Can be acute or chronic
  • Might be so bad that you’re temporarily unable to function

If you have a death in the family or your boss laid you off from your job, and you start experiencing headaches at the same time, then it’s not likely they’re unrelated. Headaches from heightened emotions are definitely something that can happen, and when they do, you might find it difficult to function.

You can deal with them with over-the-counter pain meds, by placing a cold washcloth on your forehead, or by lying down quietly in a dark room for a while. If you have pets or kids, maybe you can ask your spouse, partner, or any adults you live with to occupy them so you can have some quiet time.


Unexplained backaches are also a common emotional distress sign. These might be:

  • In the lower back
  • In the upper back

You might not be able to think of anything that you did that caused your back to hurt. It’s not as though you were in an uncomfortable position for a long time.

If you’re in a heightened emotional state, though, your stress might manifest itself in this way. Much like with headaches, you can use over-the-counter pain meds to try and take the edge off.

You can treat the backache with products like Icy Hot, or you can also get arnica montana balm or cream online and slather it on whatever part of your back hurts.


You might also experience gastrointestinal pain from heightened emotions. You might have diarrhea or be unable to eat the things you normally do for a while.

You can try treating this with Pepto Bismol or other antacids. You can eat bland foods for a while like clear broth or plain white rice until your stomach calms down.

If the condition persists, then you may have to see a doctor about it. You should explain to them the emotional distress you’re experiencing, as they’ll probably think it’s relevant.


You also might have trouble controlling your breathing if your emotional distress is coming to a head. You might find yourself gasping for air. Some people describe the sensations as similar to an asthma attack.

This can be quite frightening, but it’s usually something you can control if you stay calm and focused. Get away from anyone around you who’s causing you excess stress. You can lie down in a dark room and do some breathing exercises.

There are several good ones that you can learn from yoga or guided meditation apps. Most of them employ an internal count where you breathe in for a few seconds and then back out for a few seconds. You’re trying to clear the mind of any negative thoughts as you breathe.

Rapid Heartrate

You might also find that your heart is beating faster than usual. Some people describe it as feeling almost like a heart attack.

This is a sure sign that whatever is bothering you is getting the best of you. Like with hyperventilation, your best move is to remove yourself from whatever situation you’re in, go somewhere quiet, and focus on your breathing. Your heart rate will slow if you give it time and actively concentrate on your body.

If whatever is happening in life is too much for you, and you’re experiencing one of these symptoms regularly, or more than one, you might need counseling. Talking about what’s troubling you with someone’s objective should open up some new avenues for you to deal with it.

This is a time when more individuals than ever are grappling with emotional distress. It’s not surprising when you think about what’s happening across the world this year.

You need to find ways to deal with your distress, though. Otherwise, you could have a complete emotional breakdown.