How Can I Function When I Feel Like Crying?
By: Robert Porter
Updated November 17, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown
Everyone cries and/or experiences extended crying spells from time to time. It's the first thing we did when we were brought into this world. Even as adults, crying can be healthy. You might need to release some pain you've been carrying. But if you feel like crying too often, it could be a sign that something is wrong emotionally. Many people go through periods where it might feel difficult to function like normal; but with proper attention, it can be successfully treated.
Why Are You Crying?
First, you need to determine why you're crying. If the reason isn't clear, then you should see your physician to make certain you don't have an underlying medical condition like hypothyroidism or a vitamin deficiency. Sometimes, you may just need to eat better or sleep more. It's best to have a complete physical examination to be sure.
Many people who have problems with frequent crying are experiencing some type of depression. This is a serious matter that should be addressed with your doctor. You might need to receive special treatment to treat issues such as depression, anxiety, or other mental health-related conditions. If this is happening to you, understand that you're not alone. Millions of people successfully treat depression each year.
Dealing With Emotions
Intense emotions aren't always easy. You might be going through a particularly tough time, often feeling like you could start crying at any moment. Don't feel embarrassed or ashamed of your emotional vulnerability. Many people experience periods that cause bouts of crying. You can learn how to function during these emotionally-charged times.
Determining why you're crying is important, and a skilled online therapist can get to the bottom of any issues. Crying is an expression of something you're feeling inside. You can work with licensed therapists to figure out what those feelings mean. But let's explore some useful tips you can try on your own that might help.
Keeping Track of Your Emotions
Write down your feelings in a daily journal. This can be helpful in many ways—it helps track your moods, and allows your feelings to come out in the open, just like when talking to a therapist. It also lets you see what is bothering you. Sometimes you don't even realize how you feel until you see it in writing. Letting it all out with a pen brings a bit of relief, and gives you the opportunity to see everything in black and white.
Try to Keep Smiling
Believe it or not, just smiling can make a difference. Studies have shown that smiling can make you happy by relaxing the muscles of the face. In addition, smiling also encourages others around you to smile and feel happy, which creates a pleasant experience for everyone. Another study suggested that not being able to frown makes you feel happier. Researchers gave test recipients Botox shots to keep them from being able to frown, and these recipients all had fewer negative feelings than the control group.
Of course, it isn't always going to be easy to smile if you're depressed or having an emotional episode. It's normal to have feelings of sadness, but trying to be positive can make a difference. If you can start smiling in the face of adversity, then you just might discover you'll have an easier time functioning.
You may read the full study here: Depression: Effectiveness of a Multimodal Digital Psychotherapy Platform for Adult Depression: A Naturalistic Feasibility Study.
Get Out of Bed
Many people who find themselves crying a lot have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. They just want to stay under the covers and hide from the world. Even though feeling this way is completely understandable when you're going through depression, staying in bed will only make things worse. Do your best to get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and do something. Keeping your normal routine may not be comfortable, but try and continue with life to keep your brain chemicals flowing.
Remember that everyone struggles with depression and sadness from time to time. What you're going through might be difficult, but you'll be able to function if you can find the strength in yourself to keep moving. If you stay in bed and let the depression sink in, then it's definitely going to get worse. Stay active and occupied to feel better. You might need help on certain days, and that’s okay. Do your best to keep functioning as close to normally as possible.
Take Little Steps
Breaking larger tasks into smaller steps is more manageable. If something seems like it's too overwhelming, try to change your approach. It might be difficult to tackle a project in its entirety while you're feeling emotionally vulnerable. Doing a little bit at a time might be possible, though. This is a good way to cope, and it can help you stay productive even during trying times.
Identify the Root Cause and the Triggers
Often, when people cry a lot or just feel like crying, the problem started years before. Maybe you didn't learn how to express sadness in any other way. Perhaps you've buried a childhood trauma that is now coming to the surface. Sadness can come from past or current events, but it can also come from an existing mood disorder. Even if you've never considered you might have a mental health issue, now is a good time to find out if your symptoms are consistent with such a diagnosis.
Triggers happen in specific moments in time, right before the urge to cry hits you. Sometimes your senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell deliver the trigger. It can be a sensory signal that was associated with a past loss or trauma. Other triggers can be certain words or phrases coming from others, which have a sad meaning for you. At times, even a simple thought that passes through your mind can set off the tears.
A counselor can use a variety of techniques to help you identify the triggers. You can't avoid life, but you can be ready for the emotions before they come by understanding that certain situations or places might trigger sadness. Mindfulness techniques teach you to be aware in the present moment, wherever you are. This focus on what is happening here and now is sometimes enough to help you break free of your sadness.
Once you deal with the immediate challenges of a trigger, a counselor can help you find the cause of the emotions. This could take some time, especially if you've avoided thinking about it. The best way to speed up the process is to commit yourself to getting better.
Tears That Come From Anger
Tears of anger may come if you've never learned how to deal with this difficult emotion. They may feel like sadness in the moment, but as you talk with your counselor about your triggers, you might discover that anger is behind the tears.
You might have been punished for expressing anger, or even intentionally shamed for not being able to control it. When you don't know how to give yourself permission to feel anger, the emotion can be overwhelming. As the anger builds, you feel out of control or inferior because you see this as a problem you're not strong enough, smart enough, or mentally healthy enough to solve. The good news is that a therapist can help you manage your anger in constructive ways.
Some parents teach their children to avoid anger, while others are more accepting of the emotion. They teach their children to let out their anger wherever they are. Unfortunately, as several studies have now shown, children who are encouraged to let out their anger by taking it out on a punching bag or other inanimate object may actually increase their anger instead of diminishing it. What you need is a way to accept your anger non-judgmentally and express it in ways that don't increase it, hurt someone, or destroy property. When you understand your anger and become more familiar with it, you can feel more confident about using it appropriately. You can learn that anger doesn't have to be dangerous, so that it feels less overwhelming when you experience it.
Tears of Physical or Emotional Exhaustion
You might be crying simply because you're too tired to manage your work, home life, and social activities. Most people have busy lives. Their activity takes physical strength and endurance, but they don't have time to build either. You may have a vitamin deficiency that's making you weaker or more vulnerable to illness. In fact, you may have a physical ailment you aren't even aware of.
Before you jump to the conclusion that your tears are from sadness or anger, explore the possibility that you need to take a break from the daily grind. Go to bed a bit earlier than usual to get a longer night's sleep. Eat healthy foods. Stay at a quiet bed and breakfast for a few days, or take a trip if that is within your means. The main thing to do at these times is to rest, relax, and replenish your physical resources.
Constant stress can create a drain on your physical wellbeing, even as it destroys your peace of mind. Modern life is stressful, but most days people have no physical outlet for their stress unless they actively seek it at a gym or in a sport. As the stress builds up, you can become emotionally exhausted. The slightest thing can set off the tears. You feel like you can't deal with one additional problem, but the problems still come.
A counselor can teach you stress management techniques, and follow your progress to give you additional pointers. They can help you tone down your expectations and set more reasonable goals for yourself. By alleviating some of the stress, your body and mind can begin to recover, and the tears may end as a natural result.
The most common reason for excessive tears is dealing with some kind of loss. It can be a foreclosure, the loss of a job, the death of a pet, or the loss of a loved one. The tears are natural, of course, and they are usually necessary as a healthy stage of grief. However, you still have to take care of yourself. You need to keep active and avoid becoming isolated. A grief counselor can help you get through sadness and other stages of grief without neglecting your job, finances, or family. The tears will likely come. But it's okay—it doesn't have to stop you from functioning.
How Counseling Can Help
Consider talking to someone who understands what you're going through. Online therapy for those experiencing depression, anger, and other issues has been proven to be beneficial. A report published in Psychological Medicine analyzed over a dozen different studies, with 2,334 total patients, examining the effectiveness of internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for symptoms of depression and anxiety. CBT is a proven method of helping patients cope with different symptoms, including extended or unwanted crying spells. The analysis concluded that online therapy—including counseling, assigned exercises, and other resources—works very well as a vehicle for CBT. The study also found that online therapy allows people struggling with depression and other issues to avoid the stigma that can be associated with seeking counseling in person.
As covered above, internet-based therapy is an effective means of helping to understand and manage your emotions. BetterHelp’s online platform allows you to seek therapy without the added stress that comes with expensive in-person counseling. The licensed therapists at BetterHelp have helped thousands of people manage difficult emotions from the comfort of their own homes. You can start working toward getting better with the help of professionals who truly care about your wellbeing. You don't have to face this situation alone—you always have allies on your side. When you feel overwhelmed (or as though you can’t stop crying), send your therapist a text, and they will get back to you as soon as possible. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Ryan came into my life when I was lost, depressed, anxious and stressed. His help was available straight away which is exactly what I needed when the situation felt hopeless, and I could access it from the comfort of my own home. Writing has always been the best way for me to process my thoughts and I think I would have struggled to be truly vulnerable and speak honestly in a doctor's office... Processing these things with Ryan straight away enabled me to nip them in the bud before they developed into a massive worry and a problem."
"Dr. Okuda is a wonderful counselor who supports me in my thoughts while steering me to a positive and healthy mindset within those thoughts. She wants to make sure I am okay by the end of a session, and even if I am not, she acknowledges that that is okay. She helps me look at thought patterns in a way that's helpful in my ability to manage them and be at ease with them even in my sadness, and ideally, too, in my happiness. I would recommend Dr. Okuda to any friend or family member, she has been wonderful."
Don't let your crying keep you from living your life to the fullest. Issues like this can be overcome with the help of dedicated online counselors. Start making progress today, and you'll be able to begin your journey toward a happier life. Take the first step.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does it mean when you have crying spells?
If you're having unusual crying spells with no explanation, it could mean that you're having a medical or mental health issue. Pseudobulbar affect is a medical diagnosis where you're unable to stop yourself from crying. Talk to your doctor to find out if your crying spells are related to a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, or pseudobulbar affect.
What are the side effects of crying?
Some of the effects of long crying spells are stuffy nose, mucus buildup, headache, and sinus aggravation. People who can't stop crying often have crying spells that result in these painful physical effects. Talk to your doctor if you can't stop crying, or if you suspect you have a mental health condition like pseudobulbar affect.
Why do some people cry easily?
Crying differences are unique to each person. In other words, no two people cry in the same way—or for the same reasons. Some people cry in response to lower levels of emotional, or physical or mental stimuli, while others find it hard to stop crying for seemingly small reasons.
How do you stop yourself from crying?
The best way to stop crying is to get to the bottom of what's causing you to cry in the first place. Are you crying because you have a mental health condition like pseudobulbar affect? Or are you having crying spells because you're suffering from mental health issues like depression or anxiety? If you're unsure why you can't stop crying, talk to your doctor.
What is a nervous breakdown?
Experts describe a nervous breakdown as "a period of intense mental distress where you're unable to function in your everyday life." If you're in the middle of a nervous breakdown, this can definitely cause crying spells. People who are experiencing a nervous breakdown may find it impossible to stop crying, or take care of their everyday needs.
Is it OK to cry every day?
It's okay to have a good cry every once in a while. Unless you're under tremendous stress or suffering from a medical disorder, there's no underlying reason for extended crying spells every day. However, if you're crying as a form of therapy or release during the course of mental health, medical health, or other forms of therapy, the benefits of crying may be just the thing you need.
Can crying make you lose weight?
According to some researchers, crying can indeed help you lose weight. Researchers looked at crying effects and benefits to discover this link. Scientists say that emotional crying can cause a release of built-up toxins and stress that can cause people to lose weight as a result.
Is crying good for eyes?
It can be. People cry when they're emotionally upset and/or in physical pain. For example, if you have painful debris (like a grain of sand) in your eye, your body's natural reaction is to produce tears to remove the debris and also wash the eye. Periodic crying can cleanse your eyes of debris, and wash it away.
Why do girls cry so much?
Everyone cries for one reason or another. According to research, there isn't a significant difference in the amount that males and females cry. The small difference in women reporting that they cry more can be due to a higher production of hormones in the female body that promote crying. Testosterone in men has been said to inhibit the crying response.
How can I stop being so sensitive?
People don't necessarily have crying spells due to being overly sensitive. If you feel that you're more sensitive than the people around you, seek advice from a medical professional or counselor. A licensed professional can give you informed insight into your behavior patterns and personality traits.
Why do I cry after making love?
People often cry after making love due to the tremendous relief they feel. Making love can cause people to experience a range of emotions that they may have been unaware of until after the act of making love. Crying after making love is the body's way of additional release.
Is crying at work unprofessional?
If you feel you need to cry at work, take a few minutes to go out of view of subordinates and other employees. People may misinterpret the reason for your crying, and form their own opinions about why they think you're crying. Try to keep things professional at work. If you can't stop yourself from crying at work, excuse yourself and do so in the privacy of the restroom, or even your car, to avoid blurring personal and professional lines.
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