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Why am I crying for no reason? Emotions and conditions that can cause random crying

Why am I crying for no reason? Emotions and conditions that can cause random crying

Almost everyone has had times when they burst into tears and they have to ask themselves, “Why am I crying?” Emotions can seem to hit randomly with no clear reason behind them, which can leave you confused, surprised, or even frustrated. However, emotions are a product of situations, conditions, or other influences, and they will always strike for a reason—reasonable or not.

It’s very likely that there is a reason that you’re crying, but you don’t know what it is. Many things can cause what seems like spontaneous bouts of crying, such as being stressed or overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious.

I Cry for No Reason Sometimes: Am I Normal? Can Someone Cry Without Reason?

Crying at random times for what seems to be no reason is a perfectly normal experience. However, tears almost always signal that there is something wrong, whether we know it or not. 

It can be difficult to know why you’re crying if the cause isn’t immediately obvious. To find out, some emotional digging usually has to be done to suss out the reason, which can take practice and self-awareness.

Different pervasive feelings like stress, anxiety, depression, or fatigue don’t feel very good, so the brain can sometimes be inclined to push them down or ignore them—that is, until they can’t be.

These feelings can sit around in the subconscious, building up until they’re taking up too much space or energy. Sometimes pushing emotions down or declining to process them can be a conscious action—most people have done it at some point, perhaps when in public or around people—but it can also be subconscious. When you don’t realize you haven’t been processing your emotions, crying randomly can be even more confusing, since you don’t know that anything is wrong.

When something causes us to experience strong emotions, our bodies respond in turn, and both the situation and your body’s response are stored in the amygdala—the brain’s center for strong emotions. When another situation occurs that’s either directly or indirectly related to the previous emotional experience, our bodies will respond similarly to how they did before due to the response that’s been stored in the amygdala. 

This means that when you have a strong emotional experience, your reaction to that experience can come up again in other situations that may or may not be similar to the initial one, which can leave you confused and questioning why you feel like that.

Feelings have a way of working their way to the surface, and whether you know they’ve been hiding down deep or not, crying randomly or “for no reason” is a common sign that they need to be released.

What Is Crying for No Reason a Symptom of?

There are a variety of feelings, issues, or conditions that could be making you cry. Many of these can be small issues that build over time, causing them to sneak up on you. Here are some examples of feelings and conditions that crying could be a symptoms of:

     1. Stress or overwhelm

Stress is a common part of life, and it can often be ignored in favor of productivity or because it feels too overwhelming to deal with. However, stress will continue to build until it’s released, and excessive or intense stress can even contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Because stress can build slowly, you may not be aware of the amount of stress and pressure you feel. Crying is one way in which stress releases itself, so if you find yourself crying out of nowhere, your stress levels may be too high for your body or mind to handle. It could also be a sign that the stress you’re under has caused you to become burnt out, meaning that your mental and emotional capacities are at their limit, in desperate need of a reprieve.

If you think stress may be the culprit of your random crying, take a moment to assess your situation and identify the specific cause of your stress. This will help you become more aware of what’s plaguing you, and will help you address it or deal with it head on.

     2. Depression

As pervasive as depression is, it can certainly cause you to cry at random times for no obvious reason. Depression often comes on slowly, and since there are so many reasons one can be depressed, you may be depressed without knowing it. Even the change of the seasons from summer to fall or fall to winter can cause seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression.

Depression can cause you to feel empty, hopeless, tired, and persistently sad. One of these alone or each of them together are enough to prompt anyone to cry at any given time. If you think you’re depressed, the best thing to do is to contact a mental health professional. They can help you learn to deal with these emotions, as well as give you possible solutions for how you’re feeling.

     3. Fatigue

We all get fatigued from time to time, whether it’s due to lack of sleep, overworking, or any number of other reasons. Bodies need rest, and when they don’t get it in sufficient amounts, it can cause us to feel overly irritable, frustrated, angry, or sad—all of which can be tear-jerking emotions. The emotions fatigue can make us feel can seem irrational, and could certainly make it look or feel like you’re crying unnecessarily or for no reason.

     4. Anxiety

Since anxiety can trigger feelings like a sense of impending doom or danger, or extreme amounts of worry or nervousness, it can absolutely be a source of frequent random crying.

Anxiety can come in the form of a disorder or an anxious disposition, but either way, if your anxiety is causing you to cry randomly often, it could be a sign that you may be struggling to cope with your anxiety symptoms by yourself and need some help.

     5. Grief and loss

Grief, of course, is a terrible, tragic feeling that’s very often the cause of tears. Though it can be an obvious reason for crying, feelings of loss can also cause crying when you don’t expect it.

Grief is a nonlinear process for nearly everyone, and as such, the sadness caused by it can strike at random. Some may not process the loss right away, causing the grief to feel delayed. Each person processes grief differently: For some, the shock is too intense to let the sadness in immediately, and for others, deflection or distraction is the best way they know how to deal. In either case, the grief may hit later and surprise them with random moments of crying and sadness.

It’s impossible to control or consistently predict when your loss will affect you. Environmental factors can also contribute to random crying due to loss, such as seeing, hearing, or smelling something that reminds you of the person you lost. Whatever the case, give yourself grace and remember that grief is unpredictable, and processing it is a daily struggle. Talking to a therapist or psychiatrist can also help you deal with your feelings, giving tools to use when your grief plagues you. 

     6. Premenstrual Syndrome

For people with uteruses, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common cause of or contributor to crying at random. Periods make you feel bloated, tired, and is a source of near-constant pain for some. At the same time, hormones like estrogen and progesterone can make your moods vary drastically.

That means that PMS can make small things have much bigger effects on your mood than they usually would, bringing about crying fits for little to no reason. 

     7. Pseudobulbar affect

Though you may not have heard of it before, there is a condition that causes sudden instances of crying or laughing at inappropriate times. Pseudobulbar affect is usually caused by injuries or conditions within the neurological system, and has an affect on how the brain expresses and controls emotions.

Since the reaction is uncontrollable and may be happening at an inappropriate or unreasonable time, it may seem like you’re crying for no reason at all.

Pay attention to the patterns that lead up to you crying. By noticing what you feel in the lead up to crying, you might be able to pinpoint the reason.

Is Random Crying Anxiety?

It can be. As explained above, anxiety can bring about feelings of fear, doom, and worry, all of which can cause someone to cry. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder or you’re concerned about how often these random crying bouts are happening to you, consult a mental health professional about your symptoms.

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Why Do I Cry at Night for No Reason At All?

Most of the time, the reasons for crying at night would be nearly the same as any that could cause you to cry during the day. Conditions like anxiety, depression, or burnout can all cause bouts of crying at night for seemingly no reason.

However, nighttime can mean alone time for many people, which may leave room for thoughts to rise up that had been pushed under the surface due to the busyness of the day. It can be a time for contemplation, especially when alone, with nothing to distract from your thoughts.

Why Am I Crying For No Reason When I’m Sick?

Sickness is a stressful and exhausting occurrence, which can take a toll on your mental health just as your physical health struggles. You may also feel isolated if you live alone or are forced to quarantine, which can affect your mental health. 

Social interaction and human connection are a vital part of life, so being cut off from that can cause you to feel distressed and sad. Altogether, these ingredients can certainly cause you to cry while you’re sick.

Ways to Help You Stop Crying for No Reason

If these crying bouts happen infrequently, they may be simply a release of emotion. It’s completely normal to need to let your emotions out, and crying can actually be a method of self-soothing.  

However, if they happen more often than you think is normal—or even if they don’t—it would be best to discover the reason behind them.

One of the best ways to help keep yourself from crying at random, as well as figure out what’s causing it, is therapy. Talking to a therapist or psychiatrist can give you an extra outlet for your emotions and a professional can give you the tools and guidance to figure out what’s behind these emotions. Once the issue is identified, they can then help you work through your emotions in order to live a healthier and happier life.

There are also practices that can be done alongside therapy to help with random crying, such as mindfulness. Checking in with yourself, specifically your mental state, can help you identify any pressing emotions by backtracking when you’re upset and putting names to the emotions you feel. It can also help you identify them early, before they cause you to cry out of nowhere. There are also other forms of mindfulness, such as yoga, journaling, exercise, or other tactics that can be used to relax the mind and body.

Whether mindfulness, therapy, or another avenue suits you best, crying is similar to an alarm bell. It may happen at random or in confusing situations, but there is more often than not a reason behind your tears. Finding it and addressing it is the best way to help yourself.

  • Clinical reviewer
  • Writer
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Courtney Saunders is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) who specializes in relationships, marriage, ADHD, depression, mood disorders, LGBTQIA+ issues, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

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Hannah DeWittMental Health Writer

Hannah is a Junior Copywriter at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. Previously, Hannah has worked in copywriting positions in the car insurance and trucking sectors doing blog-style and journalistic writing and editing.

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