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You are here: Home > Distressed Faculty & Staff > General Signs of Distress

General Signs of Distress

Everyone has a bad day now and then. People get angry, upset, tearful or nervous and it is not unusual for others to notice that distress. Sometimes employees confide in co-workers or supervisors about their problems.  Doing so is neither unusual nor necessarily indicative of a warning of impending severe problems.

At some point, however, repeated distress is a red flag. When a person’s behavior changes, you will see more of the following signs of distress and see them more often. They will also become more intense.

Look for the following:

  • Nervousness
  • Agitation
  • Increased irritability
  • Undue aggressive or abrasive behavior
  • Excessive procrastination
  • Marked change in attendance and/or quality of work
  • Poorly prepared work
  • Little or no work completed
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Marked change in personal hygiene
  • The smell of alcohol
  • Withdrawal
  • Fearfulness
  • Dependency (e.g., the employee who hangs around you or makes excessive appointments to see you)
  • Indecisiveness
  • Confusion
  • Bizarre, alarming or dangerous behaviors


Weighing Distress Signals

Consider the following scales and rank these signs for frequency and intensity:

Rate How Often:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


Rate Level of Control:

Upset/In ControlIntense/Out of Control
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
by sebenl99 — last modified Jan 29, 2013 07:58 AM