Why Do I Feel Like Crying? Ten Reasons People Cry And What You Can Do About It

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated June 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMH

Over the last decade, scientists have become increasingly interested in the reasons individuals cry. Through hundreds of research studies, they’ve come up with some interesting conclusions. One of which is the idea that crying is good for you.

Yet, unexplained crying that pops up at the worst moments may signify a more serious issue. We created this guide to help you navigate some of the potential causes of your crying.

Are you wondering: why do I feel like crying all the time? It’s finally time to find answers about your frequent crying, what you can do about them, and the benefits of crying you may want to take advantage of.

1. Depression

There’s conflicting evidence from research studies looking into the effects of depression on crying. Some studies say individuals with depression experience less emotion than non-depressed individuals. Other experts have reported the exact opposite.

While psychologists continue to uncover the truth about crying and depression, one thing is for sure—individuals with depression report experiencing the uncontrollable desire to cry, often for no reason at all.

How To Deal With Depression-Induced Crying

While you may not treat the crying itself, you can find relief through treating your depression. Talk to your physician about whether anti-depressants, therapy, or both can help alleviate your symptoms.

2. Grief

When a family member dies, a child’s parents get divorced, or a loved one goes to prison, it’s common for a person to experience grief.

For grieving individuals, crying is essential to the healing journey. Some research suggests that not crying while grieving can lead to adverse health effects later in life.

How To Deal With Crying During Grieving

In a 2008 study of more than 5000 participants’ crying episodes, scientists found that crying is essential to the grieving process. More importantly, though: where you cry and who’s with you when you cry both impacts how you feel.

You’ll feel better if you cry alone or with a supportive friend, the study found. That means you should try to avoid crying at work or in public places. Save those tears for your spouse at home or your weekly therapy session to get the most out of a good cry.

3. Stress

Do you often find yourself breaking into tears at work? If the answer is yes, you probably would also answer affirmatively to the question of whether your job is stressful. That’s because many individuals cry when they’re stressed out.

How To Deal With Stress-Related Crying

Here’s the good news about stress-related tears: they’re good for you. A 2019 study looked at the effects of having a good cry on how stressed out people feel. The results? Crying helped participants maintain balance during stressful episodes.

The next time you feel like crying at work, remind yourself that it’s a coping mechanism that helps you deal with stress.

If tearful outbursts are influencing your success on the job, though, consider coming up with different self-soothing techniques that can help you deal more covertly. For example, practice breathing or meditation techniques when the stress of the day is wearing on you.

4. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

People who undergo a traumatic brain injury (TBI) report emotional problems, including uncontrollable laughing and/or crying. This is especially true of brain injuries that occurred in locations known to control emotions and behavior.

With this type of unexplained crying, people report feeling the sudden and overwhelming urge to cry. Crying is often in response to nothing at all, which can be confusing for your loved ones. Luckily, there are a few things you can do about it.

How To Deal With Crying After A TBI

The good news is emotional changes after a TBI typically go away on their own. Many people report improvements to their mood within a few months.

Those who don’t see improvements may be dealing with a more severe underlying issue. If you have TBI-related mood swings that haven’t dissipated after a few months, you should talk to your physician.

He or she will likely prescribe medication, counseling, or both to help you overcome mood swings or other emotional issues.

5. Personality

15%–20% of the population can be considered highly sensitive persons (HSP). HSPs tend to be more sensitive to their surroundings and may experience a heightened level of emotions. Of course, this includes being more prone to crying spells.

Similarly, people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) report a higher frequency of crying.

How To Deal With Crying-Prone Personality

If you’re a highly sensitive person, odds are there’s little you can do to stop yourself from crying. Your brain is wired to feel more strongly about the things you experience. Working with a therapist, though, can help you uncover your crying triggers and learn different ways to self-soothe.

For people with BPD, getting treatment for your underlying disorder may help alleviate the crying, too.

6. Post-Coital Dysphoria

Not all crying spells are bad, and post-coital dysphoria (PCD) is an excellent example of that. PCD is the scientific term for crying after sex. That’s right, tearfulness after a roll in the sheets is normal for many sexually active adults.

Some estimates claim between 32% and 46% of women experience PCD at some point in their sexually active lifetime. Perhaps more surprisingly, a study looking at the post-coital crying experiences of 1208 men found that around 4% said they regularly cried during or after sex.

The most common reasons for tearfulness? Participants reported happiness, getting lost in the moment, and incredible orgasms as reasons for PCD. Of course, others reported pain, anxiety, confusion, shame, past trauma, and depression as reasons for post-coital crying.

How To Deal With PCD

No matter what the exact reason for your PCD, there’s something you can do about it.

If you’re crying because of pain or physical discomfort, see a physician because it’s often treatable.

If your crying is due to happiness, getting lost in the moment, or an incredible orgasm, odds are you don’t need help. Change your perception about crying during or after sex, and try to view PCD positive expression of your feelings.

If you’re worried that a harmful relationship, past sexual trauma, or shame surrounding intimacy is causing your PCD, a therapist can help. Talk to your partner first, and together you can decide if you should seek individual counseling or whether a marriage and family therapist is right for you.

7. Socialization

Over the years, many studies have looked at the crying differences between men and women. They’re also more likely to cry on a more frequent basis than their male counterparts.

Why is this? Much research suggests that women are more prone to a good cry and cry more often because they’re socialized to believe crying is okay.

Meanwhile, men in their pre-adult years are discouraged from crying. Indeed, a study found that women rate a crying man and a crying woman equally. Comparatively, men tend to rate crying men more unfavorably than crying women.

How To Deal With Socialized Crying

For men socialized not to express sadness via tears, crying can be a distressing and embarrassing experience. Try to change your perspective and remember that crying is a good thing. It may even make you feel better.

If you’re dealing with uncontrollable tearful outbursts, though, it may be time to speak to a therapist. You could be dealing with a more serious underlying issue.

8. Hormones

What’s another possible reason for higher rates of crying in women than in men? Hormones, of course! Estrogen— the predominant “female” hormone— is associated with the way your brain regulates emotion.

During premenstrual syndrome (PMS), up to 90% of women report emotional symptoms. These symptoms include excessive crying, depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal.

Note that these symptoms may also influence individuals taking estrogen supplements during a gender transition.

How To Deal With Hormonal Crying

The great thing about hormonal crying is that it typically goes away after a woman’s period. However, if you experience severe mood swings or excessive crying that disrupt your daily life, you may have a premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

PMDD is a severe form of PMS that can significantly interfere with daily life and interpersonal relationships. Post-partum depression and post-menopausal depression are also hormone-related conditions that can cause you to cry.

If you think you’re experiencing crying related to hormonal imbalances, there are some things you can do. For example, birth control may help some individuals who cry during PMS or post-partum depression. Anti-depressants are also useful for more severe hormone-induced mood swings.

9. Childhood Or Adult Trauma

As we’ve discussed already, crying is a normal response to feeling stressed out. It stands to reason, then, that chronically stressed people may cry more easily and more often than others.

Indeed, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from childhood or adult trauma reports frequent urges to cry. People who have complex PTSD from repeated or prolonged trauma may be even more susceptible to unexplained crying.

How To Deal With Trauma-Related Crying

Crying related to past traumas is completely normal and even healthy. So, the first step to coping with trauma-related crying is to choose not to shame yourself for how you feel. Remind yourself that crying is good for you and let others in on that secret, too.

However, if uncontrollable crying is severely impairing your life or relationships, some treatments can help. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been shown to lessen the symptoms of PTSD. Talk therapy is another option that allows many people recovering from trauma to find relief.

10. Anxiety

18% of people in the US have anxiety, making it the country's most common mental health condition. If you always feel like crying, odds are it’s a symptom of anxiety. This condition’s top symptoms include excessive worry, irritableness, trouble concentrating, and crying.

How To Deal With Anxious Crying

Depending on how severe your anxiety is, there are different ways to deal with anxious crying.

Therapy and medication are some of the top choices for more severe cases. For milder cases of anxiety, making a simple change to your diet, sleeping pattern, and exercise routine may be sufficient to alleviate your uncontrollable crying.

Why Do I Feel Like Crying? The Bottom Line

Are you always wondering: why do I feel like crying? Then feel some peace of mind knowing that crying is good for you. It is scientifically proven to make you feel better and help you deal with stressful situations.

Yet, what happens when one good cry turns into daily uncontrollable outbursts? Find a ReGain therapist who can help you understand your unexplained crying and learn a healthy way to cope with them.

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