Reasons Why You Might Be Crying All The Time

Medically reviewed by Krista Klund, LCSW
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Throughout life, we may receive many implicit and explicit messages about crying. Depending on the environment you grew up in, you might have been taught to believe that crying is natural, normal, and okay. However, you might avoid crying as much as possible if you were surrounded by people who became uncomfortable when you cried or told you it was wrong. While crying is a natural response to any big emotion, if you can't stop crying for inexplicable reasons, it may be beneficial to take a closer look at why.

iStock/PeopleImages
Are you crying all the time for no reason?

Reasons for consistent crying

Is it healthy to cry? Crying is normal, and studies show that it can even have benefits, such as releasing endorphins to make you feel better. However, if you're crying all the time, especially uncontrollably, there may be a reason why.

The potential causes of constant crying could include the following:

  • Stress or burnout
  • Physical health conditions or pain
  • Grief
  • Mental health conditions or a neurological disorder
  • Reactions to a specific medication or drug
  • Environmental factors
  • Sensitivity

Crying may not always have an underlying cause. Examining whether you have other symptoms besides being tearful can help determine whether something else may be happening. You can also seek an opinion from a medical professional if you're unsure why you might be crying so often.

Why do people cry?

Crying, which engages a number of facial muscles, is a natural response to overwhelming emotions. Despite what some may think, crying doesn’t only occur when you feel sad. Crying can happen when you experience fear, happiness, sadness, anger, or any other emotion.

Emotions are complex, and they can be affected by physiological changes, such as fluctuations in hormone levels. When your body produces tears, it may also be trying to rid itself of stress hormones like cortisol.

In addition to physiological changes, other life circumstances, whether momentary or chronic, may cause extreme emotional responses that cause us to cry. You may even cry out of excitement, happiness, or love. Crying is not always due to feelings of sadness or something more complex.

Below, we'll explore common reasons for crying in more depth.

Stress

When an individual experiences a stressful situation, the body's natural response to relieve that stress can be to cry. At times, we may not realized that we're stressed, which may lead to what appears to be a random or disproportionate crying outburst. For example, if you are going through a stressful time at work, you may burst into tears when you accidentally knock over a glass of water. 

You’ll want to treat yourself with compassion when an emotional outpouring happens. It may be natural and necessary for you and your body to process stress and other emotions to release the tension.

While some stress is common, you may consider seeking professional support if the symptoms persist or grow more intense. If you cry multiple times a day or have a more intense crying session numerous times a week, turning inward and attempting to understand where these persistent feelings are coming from can help you feel some control over your emotions.

Uncontrolled stress may lead to issues with physical and emotional health, and in some cases, may pose an immediate risk to your well-being. In these cases, it may be best to process stressors with the help of a therapist. You might also use relaxation techniques like mindfulness.

Physical health conditions

Certain physical health conditions may cause you to cry more than usual, including pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and a condition called pseudobulbar affect (PBA). Crying more often could also be caused by changes in your body not caused by any particular health condition, such as a lack of sleep.

iStock/SDI Productions

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body experiences a spike in hormones. It's not unusual to cry more often and more easily if you're pregnant, especially in the first trimester. If you have any concerns during pregnancy, it may be helpful to contact your doctor or call your local emergency number. 

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA)

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a nervous system disorder that can cause involuntary and inappropriate laughter or crying. People with PBA may often demonstrate an emotional response that is incongruous with their true feelings. PBA can be managed with medication.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common health condition, affecting as many as three out of four people who menstruate. PMS may come with a wide range of symptoms, including irritability, sadness, and mood swings. Often, these changes in the body can lead to more frequent crying.

Lack of sleep

Sleep can be restorative for our minds and bodies. Lack of sleep may cause irritability, difficulty concentrating, poor judgment, and heightened emotions. A prolonged lack of sleep may cause excessive emotional responses and result in uncontrolled crying. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation may lead to the development of certain neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia. 

Grief

The grieving process may begin when you lose someone or something important to you. Though grief can look different for everyone, crying is a normal reaction to such an impactful event.

Crying due to grief may happen unexpectedly and uncontrollably, such as in a public place. When grieving, it is important to remember that there is no “correct” timeline for grief and that crying may help relieve complex sensations and emotions, so it can be important to allow yourself to fully engage.

Mental health conditions

Anxiety, depression, and other types of mental health conditions could be the cause of frequent or uncontrollable crying spells.

Anxiety

People living with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) tend to feel anxiety at a high level. Often, this anxiety can be caused by excessive worry over anticipated future events. People who experience mood disorders like GAD may exhibit exaggerated responses to stressors that others may not find troubling.

Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that may cause persistent sadness, usually lasting more than a few weeks. Symptoms can also include feeling hopeless, gloomy, or fatigued. When moderate or severe depression is present, the affected person may cry as a response to seemingly trivial occurrences, or be unable to explain why they are crying. This kind of crying could be the result of a sense of worthlessness or hopelessness, both clinical criteria for diagnosing depression.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Are you crying all the time for no reason?

Environmental factors

Emotions are often linked to several external factors. For example, you may feel happy when you smell freshly baked bread because of fond memories from childhood. Feeling the wind in your hair may remind you of a boat ride you enjoyed with someone close to you. Driving past a particular street may remind you of something frightening you witnessed. These emotions may sometimes feel overwhelming and can cause one to cry.

When does crying become "too much?"

While crying is a natural response, you may want to talk with a professional if you feel it has become excessive or uncontrollable. You may also consider talking to professionals if your crying is coupled with other unhealthy behaviors, like thoughts of self-harm. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. Support is available 24/7. If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

You can schedule a visit with your primary care provider for a wellness exam. They may be able to check if you have any hormonal imbalances that may be affecting your emotions. Discussing your feelings with a counselor or therapist could be beneficial, as they may help you discover the root cause of your crying. Therapist can work with you to find potential solutions as well if an underlying condition is present.

If you're experiencing grief or depression, you may have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Online counseling allows you to speak with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your home, which can make it more accessible.

Studies have shown that online therapy can be a viable solution to decreasing negative symptoms. One study showed that of 318 online therapy users studied, 37.8% reported clinically significant improvement in their depression symptoms in just three months. If you're interested in trying online therapy to learn emotional control skills, platforms such as BetterHelp offer a large database of licensed counselors.

Takeaway

Crying can be a natural emotional response to sadness, stress, and even happy memories. However, there may be times when crying seems out of your control or understanding.

During these times, effective coping mechanisms and knowing when to reach out for help can be beneficial. Staying aware of your body physically and mentally can help you feel more in control. Consider taking the first step by reaching out to a counselor.

Seeking to improve your mental health?
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started