What Is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress occurs when a victim of a traumatic accident experiences severe emotional disorders that negatively impact them. In the case of a personal injury, emotional distress is a life-changing experience and is one of the many damages they can claim were caused by the at-fault party. This is because emotional distress can be debilitating and can prevent a personal injury victim from enjoying life the same way before the accident occurred. Emotional distress can be included in the non-economic damages in a personal injury claim. 

Emotional distress can result in mental anguish that can cause a biological response. Not only is the person suffering emotionally, but their body begins to show signs of wear and tear due to the psychological burden. Many types of emotional distress can occur because of a personal injury accident. Here are some common forms of emotional distress:


Most forms of depression involve a feeling of hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, and the inability to perform normal activities. Symptoms include frustration, irritability, and anger. A depressed individual may lose interest in things they used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, or romance. They may also experience insomnia, oversleeping, and other sleep disturbances. 


Anxiety occurs when there is a constant feeling of fear, discomfort, uneasiness, and dread for no logical reason. Someone suffering from anxiety may feel tense, restless, perspire profusely, and have a racing heartbeat. They are constantly stressed out, even for small decisions. 


Some personal injury victims feel humiliated by what happened and may suffer from emotions like shame, embarrassment, and even guilt. This may be because they are dealing with the inability to work, make money, perform normal tasks, or do other activities because of their injuries. 

Low Self Esteem

A personal injury victim may have been so deeply affected that they lose confidence in themself. They may suffer from low-self esteem, which leads to new fears preventing them from doing normal activities. For example, if a victim got badly injured in a sports accident, they may feel like they can’t perform as an athlete anymore. 

Emotional distress can harm a person in the following ways: 

Social Withdrawal

A personal injury victim may feel less inclined to interact with others, impacting their family members and friends. Social withdrawal can reduce their well-being and prevent the victim from moving forward in life. 

Lack Of Motivation

The victim may feel unmotivated and disinclined to pursue normal activities that once brought them joy. This can reduce their ability to succeed and live life to the fullest. They may also exhibit poorer performance in their schoolwork or career. 


Personal injury victims can feel emotionally drained at all times, preventing them from focusing on important priorities. They may be unable to perform at their best at work or support loved ones. 

Less Exercise

A traumatized personal injury victim may exercise less and choose less healthy habits because they don’t have the motivation to take proper care of themself. This can negatively impact their health if they choose to be more sedentary. 

There are many ways emotional distress can happen due to a personal injury. You can find out more by speaking with an attorney.