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Liberty in distress.jpg


Middle English destresse, from Anglo-French destresce, from Vulgar Latin districtia, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere or Distrain meaning to press, compress, grasp tightly, squeeze.


  • 1a : seizure and detention of the goods of another as pledge or to obtain satisfaction of a claim by the sale of the goods seized
b : something that is distrained
  • 2a : pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind : trouble <gastric distress>
b : a painful situation : misfortune
  • 3: a state of danger or desperate need <a ship in distress>


In medicine, distress is an aversive state in which an animal is unable to adapt completely to stressors and their resulting stress and shows maladaptive behaviors. It can be evident in the presence of various phenomena, such as inappropriate social interaction (e.g., aggression, passivity, or withdrawal).

Stress can be created by influences such as work, school, peers or co-workers, family and death. Other influences vary upon age. This means that distress is the opposite of eustress, a positive stress that motivates us. People under constant distress are more likely to become sick, mentally or physically.

People often find ways of dealing with distress, in both negative and positive ways. Examples of positive ways are listening to music, calming exercises, sports and similar healthy distractions. Negative ways can include but are not limited to use of drugs, use of alcohol and expression of anger, which are likely to lead to complicated social interactions, thus causing increased distress.