Subjective Units Of Distress Scale (SUDS)

The Subjective Units Of Distress Scale (SUDS) is a self-report measurement tool used in psychology and therapy to assess the level of distress or discomfort experienced by an individual in response to a specific situation or stimulus. It provides a subjective rating of distress on a scale ranging from 0 to 100.

Key Components

The SUDS scale consists of the following key components:

  1. Subjective: The scale relies on the individual's personal perception of distress, making it a subjective measure.
  2. Units: Distress is quantified using a numerical rating scale.
  3. Distress: SUDS specifically focuses on distress rather than other emotional states or experiences.
  4. Scale: The range of distress ratings spans from 0 (no distress) to 100 (extreme distress).

Usage and Application

SUDS is commonly used in various therapeutic settings, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. It helps therapists and researchers gauge the intensity of distress experienced by individuals before, during, and after specific therapeutic interventions or exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli.


The procedure for using the SUDS scale typically involves the following steps:

  1. The individual identifies and describes a particular situation, event, or stimulus that elicits distress.
  2. They rate the level of distress they currently experience regarding that situation, using the SUDS scale.
  3. Throughout the therapeutic session or intervention, the individual periodically reevaluates and updates their distress rating.
  4. This aids in monitoring the effectiveness of the intervention and tracking changes in distress levels over time.


Interpretation of SUDS scores varies depending on the context and purpose of assessment. Typically, higher scores indicate greater subjective distress, while lower scores indicate reduced distress or absence of distress.