Have you ever found yourself crying for no apparent reason? It can be very alarming when you start crying but can’t pinpoint the reasons behind that have made you so upset. In most cases, when we start crying for no reason, there is a cause.
Some people start crying when watching videos or reading books. Others get emotional and start crying at funerals. For others, tears can start flowing for no apparent reason. You may be wondering why your tears started welling up during a meeting or class. In this article, we investigate some of the common reasons why people cry and whether it is healthy.
Here are the key takeaways from the article:
- Crying can be a normal bodily function with numerous benefits;
- Involuntary and inexplicable crying could be a sign of depression or mental health issue;
- We should seek help for uncontrollable and frequent crying and when having thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
First, Why Do We Cry?
Crying is a normal component of our emotional setup as humans. That said, women tend to cry more than their male counterparts, with averagely forty more cries per year. Crying, in this sense, implies the shedding of tears as a reaction to an emotional state. There are glands positioned above the eyes that generate tears. These lacrymal glands secrete tears when we blink for lubrication and to protect eyes from such foreign substances as smoke, dust, and stinging gases. The tears comprise of water, salt, enzymes, and protective antibodies.
Psychic tears, triggered by emotion, work in a different way from those meant for the lubrication of the eyes. These tears contain more protein-based hormones and are mostly generated in stressful situations. As we continue, it is important to reiterate that there is a little investigation that has been undertaken by the science behind emotional crying. It has also been determined that tears can activate the release of happiness hormones, also called endorphins.
Why Do People Cry Uncontrollably and Frequently?
Crying is more than an indication of sadness. It is caused by a wide range of emotions, including surprise, empathy, anger, and grief. While crying is normal and even healthy at times, sometimes it can happen more frequently than normal. Other than having an instantaneous emotional reaction to something, there are many other reasons why we shed tears more frequently than usual.
For most people, excessive tearfulness is connected to anxiety and hopelessness, which mostly co-occur. Also, certain neurological issues can make an individual weep or cry hysterically. Wondering why you keep crying suddenly and inexplicably? Here are some possible reasons.
A Signal of Depression
One of the indicators of depression is prolonged sadness that doesn’t go away for an extended period.
People going through depression can find activities that they once considered fun no longer interesting. Some of the notable signs of a depressive disorder include:
- Constant gloominess or sadness;
- Feelings of helplessness and a low sense of self-worth;
- Low overall energy;
- Inability to concentrate;
- Difficulty in making decisions.
If you have these symptoms and find yourself tearful over trivial matters or cannot pinpoint why you are sad, then it may well be depression. Experts suggest that uncontrolled crying episodes are more likely to occur when depression is still mild-to-moderate. With more critical depression, people find it even more difficult to convey emotions or even cry over issues.
Please note that depression as a disorder can have different symptoms from one person to the next. It can also happen to anyone, although researchers have found a genetic element to vulnerability. The causes also vary. Although depression can happen to anyone, it is much more common among women aged between 25 and 44. Consulting a therapist can help you figure out the issues you are facing and how to get treatment.
Everyone faces moments of feeling anxious or nervous from time to time. However, with anxiety disorder, a person experiences frequent episodes of worry and nervousness, sometimes even every day. Some of the common signs of an anxiety disorder include constant worries, frequent irritability, inexplicable fatigue, concentration lapses, muscle tension, and insomnia.
People struggling with anxiety tend to show such symptoms as sudden uncontrolled crying, as well as inexplicable anger episodes. These individuals are more likely to feel that while crying seems helpful, they cannot control when and why they cry.
The Pseudobulbar Affect
This is a condition characterized by incidents of sudden, uncontainable, and often untimely crying or laughing. The condition is common in people struggling with specific neurological problems that impact how the brain regulates emotion.
Persons struggling with the pseudobulbar affect may have most emotions ordinarily, but the way they express them may appear inappropriate or exaggerated. The condition can go undetected for a long time and can be even confounded for different mood disorders. The good news is that upon proper diagnosis, the condition can be effectively controlled with medication. Consulting a therapist can also help you discover coping mechanisms.
Personality and Gender Factors
Sometimes, your tendency to cry without reason can depend on your gender or personality. On average, studies show that women cry comparatively more often than men. It could be due to the fact that testosterone tends to constrain crying. Cultural beliefs and norms related to appropriate gender behavior can also explain the differences between men and women.
Everyone faces a stressful situation every once in a while. However, stress that lasts more than a few weeks requires help from a therapist. Chronic stress can have serious implications for a person’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Some of the indications of chronic stress include tension, incessant headaches, and unexplained crying incidents.
The ideal way to deal with stress is to determine the underlying causes and eliminate them or reduce them. If you find it impossible to eliminate the reasons for stress, then there are healthy strategies you can adopt to manage stress. Mindful meditation, exercising regularly, and therapy are just a few options you can consider.
Another possible reason why you may be tearful for no apparent reason is fatigue. We all face situations where we have too much work that needs to be completed and not enough time. Unfortunately, when the human body gets tired, it cannot function optimally. Insomnia, forgetfulness, and elevated irritability become common consequences.
Stress and fatigue are also linked. Mood changes and sudden crying become common. If you have been feeling tired lately and seem to cry a lot from nowhere, maybe you should rest. Schedule time for enough sleep.
Is Crying Beneficial for Your Body?
Now that we have looked at some of the reasons why people seem to cry uncontrollably, we need to examine whether there is something positive that comes from crying. Why do people cry in the first place?
Researchers have shown that there are numerous benefits of crying for the human mind and body. First, there is evidence to show that crying works to detoxify the body. Three types of tears exist, including continuous, reflex, and emotional. Continuous tears have the function of lubricating the eyes and protecting them from getting infected. On the other hand, reflex tears help when a foreign object gets into the eye by clearing the debris, such as dust.
Emotional tears also have numerous benefits as they contain toxins and stress hormones. We hypothesize that crying allows the individual to discard such stress-causing hormones and toxins.
Crying can also help by soothing and boosting a person’s mood. There is proof showing that by crying, you get to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system that helps your body to rest. Please note that the benefits may not be realized immediately. It may be a few minutes after you have finished crying that you start to feel outcomes. Having a tearful moment can also lift your moods. Crying for a long time can also help by numbing the pain.
Also, when you are going through an emotionally hard time, crying can be a way to show people in your social circle that you are not okay and require a shoulder. In this case, crying fosters social attachment and encourages social connections. Most importantly, it can help you to recover from grief or loss and restore emotional balance.
In summary, crying will be beneficial to you under the following conditions:
- If you have social and emotional support from a friend;
- If the crying arises from a positive experience;
- If it allows you to better understand your emotions and resolve a problem.
When Should One Seek Help?
As has been indicated, crying is the usual expression of human emotions. In other words, there is no need to feel embarrassed if you burst into tears from time to time. However, excessive crying that cannot be explained is something that requires consulting a therapist. If the crying makes it impossible for you to pay attention to and complete your daily activities, it could be an indicator of a triggering mental health problem. Also, you should seek therapy if you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Need Help? Start Therapy Today
If you often find yourself tearful for no apparent reason, you may have an undiagnosed mental health issue. Although you can only get an official diagnosis from a professional mental health specialist, you can also get help online. We offer a reliable, affordable, and secure platform where you can consult therapists. Fill the request form and start therapy today.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more