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Ramani Durvasula, PhD, Psychology, answeredPsychological distress can manifest in multiple ways and at different levels of severity. But in very general terms it is psychological discomfort. It can be experienced as sadness, anxiety, distraction, and in the most extreme cases - psychotic symptoms. It can be caused by many things - a severe stressor, everyday stressors, medical illness, or mental illness. It is a sense of discomfort and feeling unsettled, and usually at a level that is getting in the way of activities of daily living (e.g. work, school, caregiving, self-care). In less severe cases, psychological distress can be managed through rest, taking a break, self-care such as exercise. But if the distress and the symptoms are really interfering with life or leading to thoughts of harming self or others - intervention is required as quickly as possible - with a licensed medical or mental health professional.Helpful? 2 people found this helpful.