Why Am I Crying For No Reason?
By Sarah Fader
Updated November 16, 2019
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Crying when you don't know why can be a reason for concern. Although crying is a normal part of life for everyone, sometimes people cry for what appears to be no reason at all. In fact, you may be feeling completely happy and start crying. Some people cry when they are happy or surprised, and some cry when they are angry or anxious. There are many reasons why this may happen to you, such as an underlying physical condition, stress, fatigue, anxiety, or depression.
There are some medical conditions that can create havoc with your emotions by affecting your levels of hormones or other chemicals in your body. Some of these include:
- Thyroid disorder
- Vitamin deficiency
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Parkinson's disease
- Pseudobulbar affect (PBA)
If you think you may have one of these conditions, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Stress can be defined as a reaction to life experiences. The word is usually used to describe negative experiences but "eustress" is actually positive stress. Eustress can motivate you and improve your performance (think: preparing for a competition). It can feel exciting (think: a wedding or vacation). In contrast, distress can cause anxiety and feels unpleasant.
Chronic stress can cause a variety of issues and affect your overall physical and emotional health. Some of the physical symptoms include headaches, tension, nausea, and even crying episodes. Everyone has stress in their lives at one time or another, but it can affect people in different ways. Sometimes your body may surprise you with a crying episode out of nowhere. The best way to deal with this is to find the source of your stress and eliminate it, if possible. Sometimes it is impossible to eliminate your stress, for example, if you're feeling stressed at work. But you can find healthy ways to relieve and manage stress such as exercise, yoga, or therapy.
When your body is tired, it can be hard to function at 100 percent. Fatigue, like stress, is part of everyone's life at one time or another. We need sleep to stay healthy, and if we do not get enough sleep, our bodies can react in strange ways. Lack of sleep, being more forgetful and increased irritability can all be signs of fatigue. Fatigue can also occur simply because the body is exerting vast amounts of energy when you are anxious. And, stress and fatigue can be related: When you feel stressed, you may have a hard time falling or staying asleep. When you don't get enough sleep, you wake up not feeling refreshed. Subsequently, this can cause more stress as you go on with the demands of your day, tired and not at your best. It has been determined that a minimum of five hours of sleep each night is needed for most people in order to avoid potential crying episodes and negative mood changes. To prevent chronic episodes of crying, it is important to make sure you ideally get at least seven hours of sleep every day. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about this because it may be a symptom of an underlying illness; mental or physical or possibly both.
The Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as "a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome".Anxiety is something everyone experiences from time to time. The problem comes, however, when it is excessive and begins to interfere with your day to day life. Many people do not realize that anxiety comes with many physical symptoms. There are physical signs of anxiety that can occur even when you don't think you have a reason to be anxious. And there can be lasting physical effects of anxiety on your overall health. Similar to stress, anxiety affects our bodies in different ways and crying may be one of them. When you have anxiety frequently, or you frequently feel anxious or nervous, these physical symptoms can manifest even when you are not in a situation that makes you anxious.
Some of the other symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Shaking or trembling
- Weakness or fatigue
- A headache
- Difficulty concentrating
One of the most common reasons for crying is depression. People who suffer from depression have feelings of hopelessness and sadness that persist. Depression may be situational and temporary, specific to an incident or situation. Life events that sometimes lead to situational depression may include:
- Relationship problems
- Situational changes such as moving, going away to school or retiring
- Money problems or losing a job
Depression can also be more pervasive such as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. People who suffer from clinical depression may feel emotionally numb and empty. They also tend to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Mental health professionals refer to this as "anhedonia". Some of the other symptoms of clinical depression besides crying include:
- Sadness that lasts for longer than two weeks
- Extreme fatigue
- Changes in appetite (eating less or more)
- Changes in sleep (insomnia or sleeping too much)
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of interest in favorite activities
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Weight gain or loss
- Suicidal feelings
The way you deal with stress can be largely affected by your previous life experience. People who have stressful childhoods, existing mental health issues, and several challenging circumstances at one time are at higher risk of depression. Biological factors (for example, if someone in your family has experienced depression) can also increase the likelihood of depression. Unfortunately, only approximately half of the people who are depressed ever seek treatment.
Although only a licensed mental health professional can give you the official diagnosis, you can take an online depression quiz (and answer honestly!). Please keep in mind: while online quizzes and advice can be helpful, you should use them only as stepping stones to begin discussing your mental health with a professional. They should never be used to replace professional diagnosis or treatment. If you have symptoms of depression, consult a professional at once.
If you're experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, it's important to know that help is available. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a commonly used type of psychotherapy. CBT is a way of training yourself to identify problem thoughts, evaluate them, and if needed, replace them with more rational, helpful thoughts. You can also learn how to manage your feelings, stop worrisome thoughts from circling in your mind, and overcome your fears.
If you believe you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, call your physician or a therapist. You don't have to suffer alone. If you don't have a therapist, there are online therapists at BetterHelp that can talk to you about feeling depressed either through chatting online or on the phone. Alternatively, you can find you a therapist near you if you want to see someone in person.