Let’s stop stereotyping people facing stress


Vaibhavi Bafna


There is always going to be someone experiencing some kind of stress that we can never figure out. We may just think they are acting out, or trying to seek attention, but this is not true most of the times.

Stress is something that most people experience at some point in their life, be it in childhood, or adult life. It takes a toll on many aspects of our health and well-being, with a range of symptoms, some being the reduction in energy levels, triggering headaches or chronic pain.

There are physical, behavioral, emotional signs that indicate that someone is experiencing some difficulty and are unable to speak up.

Physical Signs of Distress

➔ Losing weight rapidly
➔ Excessive fatigue, exhaustion
➔ Frequently falling ill
➔ Inability to maintain eye contact
➔ Visible changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
➔ Appearing confused whenever asked something

Emotional Signs of Distress

➔ Frequent anger outbursts
➔ Frequent yelling or aggressive, mean comments
➔ Difficulty controlling emotions
➔ Expressions of severe anxiety or irritability
➔ Deep heavy breathing whenever out in crowded places
➔ Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
➔ More withdrawn than usual
➔ Verbally and physically aggressive towards self, others, animals or property

Behavioral Signs of Distress

➔ Consumption of substance abuse (alcohol, drugs) more often
➔ Rude, aggressive, direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or loss
➔ Constant fidgeting, shaking or trembling
➔ Self-harm
➔ Unresponsive to the external environment
➔ Excessively demanding or dependent behaviour

Other signs of Distress

➔ Expressing orally a desire to harm or kill self or someone else
➔ Displaying behavior that shows constant suicidal ideation (e.g. I won’t be around till that time)
➔ Displaying disruptive behavior that appears to be out of control
➔ Demonstrating severe disturbances in cognitive, behavioral and emotional functioning

An individual may exhibit a few or many of these signs. Some signs indicate their safety is at a risk and may require immediate action.

We as human beings are emotional. But we are also strong and independent. We are sensible and have a heart, a mind, a body and a soul. We are capable of anything we wish for.

Most people fear to talk about what they are going through because it’s hard for them to not feel like they are being judged. Studies have found that around 23% of people experience distress most of the times in their lives but never come forward because they fear society might judge them.

If you happen to see someone going through distress, help them, talk to them. That’s all they need. You see someone next to you is having a panic attack, sit with them and try to calm them. If you are the one experiencing any of those symptoms, talk to a trusted person or go see a counsellor. There are many ways to help relieve stress, including yoga, mindfulness meditation, etc.

It’s okay to feel sad or depressed. It’s okay to laugh out too much. People who are sad tend to do that. But keeping it all inside and burning ourselves out, is not okay.

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Drumil Chauhan