The Subjective Units of Distress Scale, or SUDS rating scale for short, is a self-assessment tool used to quantify emotions and measure the intensity of distress in young people with social anxiety. It is a self-report measure that requires clients to indicate their level of anxiety on a scale ranging from “no distress” to “extreme distress.” The original version relies on a scale ranging from 0 to 100 (0 indicating complete relaxation and 100 signifying the most severe distress imaginable). Verywell Mind breaks down the scale with different guide points when rating distress as follows:
100: Unbearably upset to the point that you cannot function and may be on the verge of a breakdown
90: Extremely anxious and desperate, helpless, and unable to handle it
80: Worried and panicky; losing focus and feeling anxious in the body
70: Discomfort dominates your thoughts, and you struggle to function normally
60: Moderate to strong levels of discomfort
50: Upset and uncomfortable; still functional
40: Mild to moderate anxiety and worry
30: Worried or upset; still able to function
20: A little bit sad or distressed
10: No distress; alert and focused
0: Peace and complete calm
To simplify the rating system and ease decision making the use of a smaller scale range (e.g., 0 to 10) with personalized anchors (e.g., 0 denoting not at all scary, and 10 being the scariest) for children is often implemented. When SUDs is used with younger children and with young people that have difficulty verbally articulating their emotions, it is common to rely on a visual analogue scale such as a feelings thermometer, to more accurately relay their levels of anxiety. Each item included asks the child to consider thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that they may have had about social situations (e.g., public speaking, attending social events or parties, introducing yourself to others, having conversations, giving, and receiving compliments, making requests of others, eating in public, etc.) in the past 7 days. Each item on the measure is rated by the child, and the scoring is based on the sum of the answers where, regardless of the scale range, higher scores indicate greater severity.
Further Information and Support
For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.