I Can’t Stop Crying: What Should I Do About It?
By Sarah Fader
Updated January 24, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Have you ever had the kind of day where you told someone close to you, "I can't stop crying"? Maybe you've had that kind of day before, but you haven't told anyone.
A certain amount of crying is completely normal, and some of us are more emotional than others. The truth is that we all get sad. Sometimes, we cry when we watch movies, and occasionally we can even cry tears of joy.
So, when does "crying" become a concern or a warning sign of a deeper problem? Is there such a thing as crying too much?
I Can't Stop Crying: What Should I Do About It?
According to Healthline, "If you're concerned that you're crying too much, if you can't seem to stop crying, or have started crying more than usual, talk to your doctor. It may be a sign of depression or another mood disorder."
While some crying is normal, a spike in crying or feeling like you can't stop might indicate a deeper problem that won't go away by itself. The important thing is to talk to someone, and if you happen to be having suicidal thoughts, immediately reach out to one of these hotlines.
There are effective treatments for depression and mood disorders available. It is possible to lead a normal life and use these treatments to reduce symptoms and learn to better deal with overwhelming feelings if they happen again in the future.
Effective Treatments for Depression and Other Mood Disorders
As many as 1 in 10 adults will suffer from a mood disorder in their lifetime. Luckily, several different treatment options can help you ease your symptoms and teach you coping mechanisms to help with future episodes.
Mental health counseling
Mental health counseling is usually offered in various clinical and community settings in your local area. Other alternatives that exist now are affordable online counseling services like BetterHelp that offer support for people who have mental illness or going through a hard time.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-focused therapy that aims to help people change the way they think. According to a study by Ellen Driessen, M.Sc. and Steven D. Hollon, Ph.D., CBT is an effective treatment for acute depression and can be used as an alternative to antidepressants for some. Some evidence suggests that CBT could affect cognition and help prevent future relapse.
In some cases, doctors or psychiatrists may prescribe their patient's medication to help get their depression or other mood disorder under control.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some medications used to treat mood disorders include:
- Antidepressants (SSRIs like Fluoxetine and Paroxetine, for example, SNRIs and MAOIs)
- Anti-Anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines like Clonazepam)
In addition to counseling and medication, your health practitioner may recommend changes in diet and exercise to help you gain energy and manage your mood disorder, so that you may start feeling like yourself again.
Crying is a natural reaction to some stimuli. Everyone does it. The stimuli arouse emotion and affect different people in different ways. Some people cry easily in sad movies, sad stories about injured children or animals. Sometimes we cry because we are hurt or sad. Crying can sometimes make you feel better if you have the support of a family member or friend. To try to stop crying, you can take deep breaths, concentrate on a pleasant thought or song, relax your facial muscles, then your head and neck muscles, and slowly work down your body to your feet. You can also try doing some light exercise or go for a walk and change your scenery.
There are many reasons for crying, such as anxiety, depression, pseudobulbar affect, and culture and gender influences.
People can develop anxiety over financial situations, relationships, work, school, health, bereavement, or a host of other reasons. Persistent anxiety can manifest as mood swings, irritability or crankiness, muscle tension, fatigue, and trouble sleeping. It can affect your work, your social life, your ability to enjoy different activities and can put a tremendous amount of stress on your body and mind. Anxiety will affect your life and, even though it is affecting your daily life, you may believe you are handling everything just fine - until the dam breaks, and you find you are crying for no apparent reason. Anxiety is very powerful and having constant fear and fatigue can rob you of energy and health. If anxiety persists, it can lead to depression.
Depression can be described as feelings of sadness that you've had for more than a couple of weeks. You no longer have interest in things that you found pleasurable before; you begin to isolate yourself from contact with friends and family; you feel life is hopeless and you are worthless; you no longer have the energy you once enjoyed; you want to sleep rather than engage in activities you used to do; you cry or feel like crying all the time; and you cannot concentrate.
Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is uncontrollable crying, laughing, or fits of anger. It can be the result of injury to that part of the brain that controls emotions. A person diagnosed with PBA could have suffered a stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS), or multiple sclerosis (MS). People who suffer from PBA are often misdiagnosed as having depression. As PBA is the result of progressive neurological diseases and delaying treatment because of misdiagnoses or prescribing treatment that is ineffective is harmful to the person who is suffering.
Women often suffer from depression when they are experiencing menopause or postpartum. Studies have determined that more women suffer from fits of crying than men. Those who feel compassion or deep empathy for others, those who are insecure or obsessive will cry more and more often than others.
Crying is a natural way of relieving stress. However, crying and not being able to stop can lead to a numbing of emotional responses so that other emotions can't be expressed. You may get to the point where you cry less but cannot enjoy other emotions like happiness and joy. You will find yourself shutting down, unable to concentrate on work, taking more sick days, refusing to answer your phone, refusing visitors and isolating yourself from others. And this is a very dangerous situation. This requires medical intervention.
If you can't understand why you cry, you think you cry too much or can't stop crying; it is a good idea to see your doctor. Persistent crying can lead to depression or make you more vulnerable to physical ailments or thoughts of suicide. Modern medications have been proved to decrease depression symptoms significantly. If the depression persists, your doctor can refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who can provide treatment for mood disorders. They may recommend medications, talk therapy, Yoga, or meditation.