What constitutes emotional distress?
Here is a medical answer: Any stimuli that causes the human function to cease to be in normal stasis due to outside stressors or internal stressors can be considered a form of stress and emotional distress upon the human body. Translation:
Any time the human body receives negative messages either from outside things or events; or from the mind affecting the body's normal way of being is considered to be a possible stressor.
Here are some samples of outside stressors: Trauma, wounds, burns, criminal acts against the body or even a miscarriage.
Here are samples of internal stressors: Environmental issues such as death, loss of job, divorce, death in family, loss of home, loss of limbs or even a uterus, relationship problems, struggles with mental illness, struggles with physical illness, being the victim of a crime, being the criminal, and a hundred other stressful events or ideas. Having to make a decision can cause stress. Lack of sleep can be a stressor or be a symptom of stress.
Emotional stress is due to the internal and external stressors being present. When your coping mechanisms are not functioning properly you will suffer from stress. Stress then affects the human body and mind and feelings. Here is an example: Grief. Grief causes us to react to events and other people differently than when we were not grieving. You can grieve the loss of a marriage, the loss of the ability to procreate, the loss of your normal way of functioning, the loss of a person you loved or admired, the loss of your ability to control your life or support your life and even the loss of faith or trust. Your emotions can go on a roller coaster ride from this stress or you could shut down. Some chose to make themselves feel differently in response to the stressors bothering them. Often this is why some people drink alcohol, abuse drugs or eat too much or stop eating.
It is critical for emotional stressors and distress to be dealt with and not ignored. The longer a person avoids getting his or her emotional health functioning back into service the more he or she is subject to all the problems in his or her mind and body that occurs with emotional distress. Here is a reason why you must deal with the stressor and the stress inside you: The longer you have your body spitting out too much endorphins, hormones, and special cells you will suffer in many areas of your body. Constipation is one of the number one results of the human body being over stressed and emotionally distressed.
A book could be written on the many health problems which are the result of emotional distress. For the sake of good mental health emotional distress must be resolved.
To resolve the problems you must recognize the problem, determine what is upsetting you and your body's normal function, talk about the problem, consider options to resolve the problem then take action. For instance a woman being battered by a significant other must admit she is being abused, consider ways to get away from the abuse or stop the abuse and then take the brave step to be freed from the abuse forever.
It could require a professional such as a counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist or minister to get proper help to resolve the problem. There may be a need for "law and order" to be involved when there is crime occurring or may occur. Divorce may be necessary and that too is another stressor but often a solution to a serious problem such as abuse, adultery or a spouse committing crimes. Some of the mothers of gang members say they suffer emotionally daily because they cannot get their children to get out of the gang and stop their gang idealism. The mothers often have to resort to turning over their own children to the justice system.