This paper reviews survey research explaining the social patterns of distress. There are four basic patterns: The higher one's social status the lower one's distress; women are more distressed than men; married persons are less distressed than unmarried persons, and; the greater the number of undesirable events in one's life the greater one's distress. The major forms of distress are malaise (such as lethargy, headaches, and trembling hands), anxiety (such as feeling afraid, worried, or irritable), and depression (such as feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless). Sociological theory suggests that alienation, authoritarianism, and inequity produce distress. The research indicates that distress is reduced by control, commitment, support, meaning, normality, flexibility, trust, and equity. The presence or absence of these accounts for the social patterns of distress.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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