Learning How To Cope With Sudden Emotional Distress

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Hansa Pandey

18 January 2024

8 Mins

There are many reasons why one cannot control emotions under challenging circumstances. Changes in emotional state can be a cause of an underlying mental health issue or inappropriate lifestyle. It is crucial for the person to slow down and re-evaluate the reasons behind frequent events of sudden emotional outbursts and try to heal them by adopting various coping techniques. But for proper diagnosis, the person must seek professional help.

Life is totally unpredictable. We never know what is going to happen next. One day everything is going well, and another day something out of the blue happens that changes a person's life course. Some bravely face life's challenges, and some break into pieces, leading to emotional outbursts. When a person loses their capacity to respond with a calm mind to a stressful life situation and suddenly bursts out with anger, frustration and irritation, there's a possibility that the person is suffering from emotional distress. Usually, the emotional distress goes away with the end of the crisis, but if the person is still facing emotional distress, they might suffer from mental health issues.

Common Reasons That Cause Emotional Distress

what causes emotional sudden distresss

The root cause of sudden emotional distress can be linked with two causes:- first is common reasons which include an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, major shifts in life, feeling more than others and genetics. The second cause could be linked with underlying mental health issues like - depression, anxiety disorder, ADHD and trauma.

1. Poor diet and inactive lifestyle

We all are aware of the fact that “Health is Wealth’’, but only a few people know the importance of it. For example, processed or junk food hampers the production of good bacteria, which can lead to emotional anxiety. A conscious diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can help reduce emotional distress. A healthy diet and a good exercise routine are also necessary for managing emotional anxiety. Sitting for long hours in front of our screens and not taking short breaks in between can lead to emotional distress. Regular exercise with body movement keeps our metabolism active and our mind stable.

2. Genetics

Being emotionally distressed once in a while is a part of human life but extreme emotional distress can be linked to genetics. Although upbringing and other social factors can be a cause of emotional distress, heredity also plays a major role too. Studies have shown that major mental problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are usually related to genetic factors. According to a research conducted by Stanford Medicine, if someone in the family is suffering from major depression, then the person is probably at risk of developing depression.

3. Unexpected events

No matter how much we try to control and plan our life, sometimes sudden life shifts can make us helpless and confused. As a result, even a practical person can experience extreme emotional distress and anxiety.

Some of the most emotionally distressing changing events are:

  • Loss of Job
  • Death of loved one
  • Divorce
  • Breakup

It is not crucial to go through a massive life transformation to suffer from emotional outbursts. Minor events in our daily lives can cause irrelevant emotional pressure and anxiety, like fighting with your parents, losing valuable items, bad grades etc. It is important to keep patience with ourselves and take help from loved ones.

4. Lack of sleep

Watching web series late at night or chatting with your lover till morning once in a while is okay, but repeating the same pattern can impact your physical and emotional health in many ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ), an adult who doesn't take proper 7 hours of sleep is at high risk of developing chronic health and mental issues. Lack of sleep impacts our reasoning ability and creativity and can cause irritability, emotional distress, fatigue, mood swings etc. In order to reduce emotional anxiety, a proper sleep is necessary to add quality to our lifestyle.

5. Highly sensitive

Do you usually get comments like "you are too sensitive" or "why are you so sensitive?" then don't feel bad because some people are actually more sensitive than others. Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a term which is used for people who feel their surroundings more deeply than others. They are sensitive to other people's mood swings, bright lights and loud noise. Research shows that 20 per cent of human beings possess this unique quality. So, next time you ever randomly start feeling emotional distress, anxiety or pressure, do check the vibes of your environment.

Underlying Mental Health Issues Can Also Cause Emotional Distress

1. Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety as a response to a stressful situation is a part of human nature. People can experience heightened emotions like fear, stress and irritation, which can lead to emotional pressure. The anxiety usually goes away with the end of the crisis. But if the person is still having constant stress or is nervous without any reason, then the person can be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can cause us extreme emotional distress, which can impact our overall well-being. It is important to slow down and re-evaluate our lifestyle or seek medical help if needed.

2. Depression

Depression can be counted as one of the major causes of emotional distress. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 280 million people are suffering from depression. People who are facing depression have higher levels of negative thoughts, which results in a constant state of sadness, irritability, emptiness, losing interest in daily activities and extreme emotional distress. Depression can make us feel disconnected from ourselves and from our surroundings. Be kind to yourself and make a little conscious effort in the right direction.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition which develops in childhood and can last into adulthood. People with ADHD may have trouble concentrating on tasks, get easily distracted, interrupt others while speaking, forget things, usually miss the small details of conversation or tasks and are unable to complete their tasks on time. These problems often create extreme emotional distress in people, ultimately affecting their personal and professional lives.

4. Trauma

Trauma is a response to an unfortunate event which causes deep emotional, physical and psychological harm. It is normal to have a strong emotional reaction like fear, sadness, anger and frustration both during and after the event. According to research, major traumatic events such as car accidents, sexual assault, upbringing in a chaotic environment or physical trauma can alter the human’s emotional behaviour. The trauma survivor can experience unusual tantrums, emotional pressure and anxiety, irritability and difficulty in expressing needs. If the trauma creates an interruption in your day-to-day tasks, you might be suffering from Post Traumatic Disorder (PTSD).

How To Cope With Sudden Emotional Distress

how to cope with sudden emotional distress

Here are some solutions which you can use to deal with sudden emotional outburst:

1. Meditation

With the help of meditation, we can bring back the attention to our authentic selves. It helps in calming our minds and eliminating unnecessary thoughts and emotional distress which distracts us. Starting our day with 5 minutes of meditation and gradually increasing the duration can enhance our overall emotional and physical health.

2. Distract yourself

Distracting yourself with activities that make you happy can help you to soothe your emotional distress. To escape from emotional anxiety, you can occupy your mind by going for a walk, dancing, painting, watching movies, cleaning, organizing your bedroom or bookshelf, etc. These activities will shift your focus from the sudden rush of emotions and clear your mind.

3. Express yourself

Repeating the same thoughts in our minds without expressing them can keep us stuck in the same loop, which leads to events of unnecessary emotional outbursts. Sometimes it is important to express ourselves to a family member or friend or on an online platform like Now&Me that provides a safe space for people to express themselves freely without revealing their identity.

4. Try journaling

When we try to figure out a solution to a stressful situation in our minds, we easily get entangled in our thoughts which cause us emotional anxiety. By writing down our thoughts on paper, we can reduce our emotional distress and also can easily come up with solutions. If you don't know how to and where to start journaling, you can join the journaling group of Now&Me which will motivate you to develop a habit of journaling with like-minded people.

5. Seek professional help

Suppose you have tried all the methods to cope with your emotional distress and are still unable to overcome the symptoms of emotional distress. In that case, it is better to seek professional help. Taking guidance from a professional will help you recover fast and make you more resilient in difficult situations.

How Can Now&Me help?

If you find yourself often in situations where you lose your rational abilities due to sudden emotional outbursts, then it's high time to reassess your lifestyle and surroundings. Our behaviour not just affects our health or immune system; it also impacts our relationships with other people. So finding the fundamental cause behind your emotional distress can help you live a more joyful and healthy life.

Now&Me provides a safe and supportive platform to connect with experienced mental health and self care professionals who can offer you guidance and support.

Our peer community is welcoming, non-judgmental, and inclusive, creating a warm and supportive environment to share your thoughts and feelings.

You can interact with like-minded peers or seek guidance from experienced experts like therapists and life coaches, instantly. What are you waiting for? Download for FREE!


At one point in our lives, we all suffer from emotional anxiety, which goes away with the end of a challenging situation. But if this persists, then the person might be emotionally suffering, which can be determined by these five signs: anxiety, anger and too many mood swings; feeling disconnected from others and avoiding social gatherings, hopelessness, emptiness and a constant state of sadness; lack of self-care, loss of appetite; feeling tired even after sleeping for long hours or unable to sleep.

We can deal with sudden emotions by distracting ourselves with certain activities which make us happy and soothe our nervous system. Here are some tips for you that you can use while facing sudden emotions: Sketching or painting ; Listen to podcasts related to mental health ; Take a hot shower ; Play with your pet ; Go for a long walk.

We experience sudden emotional outbursts when we are unable to deal with stressful situations and just flow away with the emotions. This can be linked to our diet, stress, genetics, lack of sleep or an underlying physical or mental condition such as depression. It is crucial for the person to re-evaluate such events if they occur frequently.

Consumption of too much sugar or processed food can disrupt the good bacteria of our gut (second brain) which can give us emotional anxiety and sudden emotional outbursts. A diet filled with nutrients, essential fat and vitamins can help us to keep our emotions stable in difficult circumstances.

Sometimes emotional dysregulation makes it difficult for us to recognize and control our emotions. We start feeling ashamed, guilty and overwhelmed by our emotions to the point that we lose the power to manage our own behaviour and ability to make rational decisions.

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