Crying for No Reason? Possible Explanations

Crying for no reason - possible explanations

Crying is a universal human experience and a normal reaction to several factors. You might cry when you’re in pain, upset, or angry. However, when you keep crying for no reason, something else could be going on.

If you break into tears with no explanation, it can be disruptive and embarrassing. The good news is, unexplained crying often has underlying causes and once you understand them, you may be able to address them. Here’s what you need to know to get those tears under control.

Understanding Unexplained Crying

There’s a lot about crying that isn’t yet understood. Some people cry more than others based on their emotions or how sensitive they are to stimuli. It can actually help you feel a lot better if you’re in distress.

However, sometimes, you may cry at times when it feels inappropriate. People might expect you to cry at a wedding, funeral, or during a sad movie. But, when the crying starts for no explainable reason, like at work or while driving, it could be a sign that there’s something else going on.

Psychological Factors that Cause Unexplained Crying

Several psychological disorders can cause unexplained crying. Some may require professional treatment while others may be alleviated through self-care. Among the most common are:

  • Feeling overwhelmed: As stress and responsibilities mount and demand more of you, you can be left feeling exhausted and unable to cope. Unexplained crying may be a way for your body to release that frustration.
  • Burnout: Burnout occurs when you’ve reached a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It’s typically triggered by chronic stress and overworking. People tend to become more emotional when exhausted. Those emotions are frequently released through crying.
  • Anxiety or fear: Both fear and anxiety serve as protective emotions to get through dangerous or stressful situations. However, the body is not meant to live in a constant state of hypervigilance caused by them. Uncontrollable, unexplained crying can be related to an anxiety disorder.
  • Depression: People with depression often experience uncomfortable feelings, such as sadness and hopelessness. One of its symptoms is also unexplained crying, either in response to certain triggers or for seemingly no reason.

Physical Health Conditions That Cause Unexplained Crying

Physical health conditions can sometimes explain why you cry when you don’t want to. For example, the Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a condition that leads to outbursts of laughing or crying at inappropriate times. These episodes are unrelated to your emotional state.

An estimated 2 to 7 million people in the U.S. may have PBA. It’s commonly associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Hormonal Changes

First, it’s important to note that women report crying more frequently than men. Some people theorize that testosterone, which is typically at higher levels in men, prohibits crying while prolactin, which is found in higher levels in women, promotes it.

However, if you feel like you always cry for no reason, it can suggest signs of a hormonal imbalance and indicates you may need a trip to your doctor to find out the cause. The crying may be linked to estrogen or progesterone imbalances.

Hormonal changes can certainly influence your tendency to cry, as can be seen during pregnancy. Pregnant women are known to cry for reasons that wouldn’t bother them normally due to the influx of hormones required to sustain the pregnancy.

Likewise, the newly postpartum period is associated with a rapid drop in hormone levels. This can leave new mothers experiencing crying spells for no reason.

Other hormonal changes can lead to crying, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). People with this condition may feel more emotional the week prior to menstruation in response to the fluctuating hormones. Others may feel more emotional during menstruation, which is also linked to hormonal changes.

Medications and Substance Use

Some medications may cause crying and moodiness as a side effect. However, these are typically disclosed upon first receiving the prescription. Those side effects may not be presented as crying, however. Medications may be listed as causing anxiety or depression, and that could manifest as unexplained crying.

If you experience frequent unexplained crying on a prescribed medication and it’s disrupting your life, speak with your physician to find alternative treatment options.

Substance use can also lead to unexplained crying, and can even be a sign that someone is abusing a substance. Alcohol in particular is a depressant that can cause depression and anxiety, leading to extreme levels of hopelessness and sadness that cause crying when drunk.

Marijuana can cause an increased risk of developing or experiencing anxiety and depression. These factors may also cause unexplained crying.

Coping Strategies and Self-Care Tips

Some causes of unexplained crying require medical intervention to manage. For example, medications can be given for PBA, depression, or anxiety. However, many times, coping strategies and self-care techniques can help alleviate underlying causes that contribute to frequent bouts of unexplained crying.

  • Acknowledge Your Emotions: If your crying comes with unexplained emotions as well, you might be tempted to ignore them. However, acknowledging and validating your emotions, even if you’re not sure why you’re feeling them, can help you feel better.
  • Find the Underlying Issues: There may be underlying issues leading to frequent crying episodes. This may be a good time for a full physical and mental checkup to identify any physiological or psychological reasons for your crying.
  • Work With a Mental Health Professional: If you suspect that your unexplained crying is caused by a mental health issue, seek help. If you have depression, anxiety, or other conditions that lead to crying, you may notice that the frequency and intensity go down after you’ve treated them.
  • Practice Good Self-Care: Taking care of yourself makes you feel better, physically and mentally. Consider your diet, exercise routine, and sleep schedule. Optimizing these may help you feel better. Be sure to make some time for things you enjoy as well. Everyone deserves leisure time and scheduling it in can go a long way for your mental health.
  • Practice Deep Breathing Techniques: Breathing techniques can help you regain control of yourself if you start crying, or potentially even fend off a crying spell. Slow, deep inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth can help trigger a calming reaction by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique has you tense your muscles for 15-20 seconds, then release the muscle group and relax for 20-30 seconds. Start at the head and slowly work your way down your face, jaw, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, back, buttocks, legs, and feet. It works to relieve pain and decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Practice Grounding Techniques: Some grounding techniques, such as focusing on things you can sense around you or playing with a piece of jewelry can help you regain control of your emotions and focus on the present.
  • Journal to Discover Triggers: Try maintaining a crying journal to help you identify triggers. By identifying what’s going on before and during a crying episode, you may be able to notice a pattern. For example, is it around a certain time of the month? Is it when you skip a meal?
  • Use Distraction Techniques: Some people choose distraction techniques to help ground themselves when they’re emotional. For example, you might think about something repetitive, like a nursery rhyme or a song, when you start to get upset or think you might start to cry. By shifting your focus to something distracting, you may be able to avoid crying.

You Can Take Control of Your Crying

You don’t have to spend your life worried about crying uncontrollably. While it’s not usually harmful or a sign of something serious, frequent crying may be disruptive to your life.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to keep a pattern of crying for no reason in check, there is help. Our compassionate counselors are ready to guide your way to a better tomorrow. Contact us today at (855) 940-2146.