Psychologically speaking, a lot what we refer to as stress in everyday life is actually "distress." Distress comes from upsetting events such as losing your job, breaking up, flunking an exam, and so on. It throws your chemical-emotional system out of whack, and your body has to work hard to return to a homeostatic state. Several episodes of distress in a span of time can often be linked to a high incidence of illness later on.

Counterpart/opposite of eustress.

Distress is also a novel by Australian science fiction author Greg Egan, about the culmination of physics in a Theory of Everything and its (largely invented) implications for humanity and the Universe. The protagonist is a journalist sent to cover the Einstein Centenary Conference on Stateless, an artificial atoll created by a group of anarchist corporate defectors. The conference is to host the first presentation of the three most widely accepted candidates for the Theory of Everything and as a result attracts attendants from both the international scientific community and the ignorance cults, groups dedicated to stopping the discovery and publication of the Theory of Everything, motivated by a fear of eliminating every last mystery from nature.

The book opens with a somewhat disturbing scene: a man who has been stabbed to death is very temporarily revived with combination of techniques that ravage his body while granting him a few more lucid minutes of consciousness in which to tell investigators what he remembers of the attack.

Dis*tress" (?), n. [OE. destresse, distresse, OF. destresse, destrece, F. d'etresse, OF. destrecier to distress, (assumed) LL. districtiare, fr. L. districtus, p. p. of distringere. See Distrain, and cf. Stress.]


Extreme pain or suffering; anguish of body or mind; as, to suffer distress from the gout, or from the loss of friends.

Not fearing death nor shrinking for distress. Shak.


That which occasions suffering; painful situation; misfortune; affliction; misery.

Affliction's sons are brothers in distress. Burns.


A state of danger or necessity; as, a ship in distress, from leaking, loss of spars, want of provisions or water, etc.

4. Law (a)

The act of distraining; the taking of a personal chattel out of the possession of a wrongdoer, by way of pledge for redress of an injury, or for the performance of a duty, as for nonpayment of rent or taxes, or for injury done by cattle, etc.


The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.

Bouvier. Kent. Burrill.

If he were not paid, he would straight go and take a distress of goods and cattle. Spenser.

The distress thus taken must be proportioned to the thing distrained for. Blackstone.

Abuse of distress. Law See under Abuse.

Syn. -- Affliction; suffering; pain; agony; misery; torment; anguish; grief; sorrow; calamity; misfortune; trouble; adversity. See Affliction.


© Webster 1913.

Dis*tress", v. t. [imp. & p. p. Distressed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Distressing.] [Cf. OF. destrecier. See Distress, n.]


To cause pain or anguish to; to pain; to oppress with calamity; to afflict; to harass; to make miserable.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. 2 Cor. iv. 8.


To compel by pain or suffering.

Men who can neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of duty. A. Hamilton.

3. Law

To seize for debt; to distrain.

Syn. -- To pain; grieve; harass; trouble; perplex; afflict; worry; annoy.


© Webster 1913.

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