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Why Do I Cry For No Reason? 10 Possible Reasons

Why Do I Cry For No Reason?

Do you find yourself crying for no obvious reason? Premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause, menopause, and depression could lie at the root of the issue. So can sleep deprivation, stress and burnout, pseudobulbar affect, postcoital dysphoria, vitamin B12 deficiency, low blood sugar, or thyroid problems.

We all go through ups and downs in life. And sometimes you may find yourself bursting into tears for no obvious reason. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. But if you’ve been feeling uncharacteristically emotional and it is overwhelming you, it’s important to figure out what’s going on. Here are 10 reasons that could be at the root of those tears.

1. Sleep Deprivation

On average, an adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day.1 Not getting enough sleep can impact how you process emotions. Specifically, emotional reactivity is altered and your brain loses the ability to distinguish between what’s important and what’s trivial or manageable. The result? Everything seems like a big deal. Even minor triggers can cause you to react with excessive emotion.2

2. Stress And Burnout

Your stressful lifestyle may be to blame if you find yourself crying for no reason. By breaking into tears, your body is just finding a vent for all that pent-up tension. Extreme pressure can leave you feeling burned out, empty, and exhausted. It can cause also cause physical symptoms like headaches, tummy problems, and aches or pains. So if you are overworked, under pressure all the time, or work in a conflict-filled environment, it may be time for some stress relief.3 4

3. Premenstrual Syndrome

Do you feel weepy, moody, or bloated in the days before you have your period? That’s called premenstrual syndrome (PMS), with many women experiencing moodiness in the week or two leading up to their period. This usually stops once the period starts. Other than crying spells, PMS can cause you to feel depressed, tense, anxious, or crabby. You may also have mood swings, trouble focusing, and angry outbursts. Physical symptoms can include breast tenderness, tiredness, headaches, bloating, hunger, digestive problems, and aches and pains. These changes are thought to be linked to hormonal changes that occur during your menstrual cycle.5

4. Perimenopause And Menopause

If you are in your late thirties or early forties, here’s a trigger to look out for. Crying more easily than usual might indicate a hormonal upheaval. Mood swings, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances can all be signs of perimenopause or menopause. Perimenopause can begin months or even years before menopause or the end of menstruation. It’s caused by a decline in ovarian function and usually starts with irregular menstrual cycles and ends about a year after your last period. Research shows that a case of the blues and mood swings are more likely during perimenopause when you experience erratic hormonal fluctuations. You could feel a depressed, anxious, or experience shifting moods where you’re crying one minute and laughing the next.6 7

5. Postcoital Dysphoria

Do you feel sad or teary after sex? You’re not alone! Known as postcoital dysphoria, this condition is characterized by feelings of sadness, agitation, or anxiety after intercourse. One study found that 46% of women have experienced it at least once in their lifetime. There is very little scientific research about postcoital dysphoria but experts suggest that physiological release, emotional release, or hormones could be responsible for the reaction.8

6. Pseudobulbar Affect

Pseudobulbar affect is a condition that usually occurs in people with neurological injuries or conditions which impact the manner in which your brain processes emotions. It causes episodes of sudden, inappropriate, uncontrollable crying or laughing. It is usually seen in people with traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or in stroke survivors and is thought to affect more than a million people in the US. Medication is often suggested to reduce the frequency and severity of emotional outbursts.9

7. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 plays a significant role in keeping your blood and nerve cells healthy and helps form DNA. A deficiency in this nutrient can lead to depression and cause tearfulness, apathy, and irritability. It can also lead to symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, weight loss, loss of appetite, constipation, nerve problems, balance problems, poor memory, confusion, soreness in the tongue or mouth, and megaloblastic anemia. Foods like clams, beef liver, eggs, meat, fish and dairy products can keep your body plied with vitamin B12. But some people may be deficient in this vitamin because their bodies have trouble absorbing vitamin B12. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best way to treat a deficiency.10 11

8. Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is usually seen in people with diabetes and can be a result of delaying meals, eating fewer carbs than usual, intense exercise, binge drinking, or going overboard with the diabetes medication. In rare cases, it may also occur in people who don’t have diabetes, where it may be caused by having huge quantities of carbohydrates, binge drinking, malnutrition or fasting, a gastric bypass surgery, or medical conditions such as a growth in the pancreas, Addison’s disease, or an issue with the heart, liver, or kidneys. Other than easily becoming tearful, irritated, or moody, low blood sugar can cause symptoms like hunger, sweating, shaking, tiredness, dizziness, and heart palpitations. If things get worse, you may experience blurred vision, confusion, slurred speech, and sleepiness. Having a sugary snack or drink can bring your sugar levels back up.12

9. Thyroid Problems

Thyroid problems, particularly hypothyroidism, a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce sufficient hormones may also be at the root of your teary episodes. Hypothyroidism is mostly caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. Damage to the thyroid gland due to treatment for thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism can also be a trigger. Depression, weight gain, and tiredness are common symptoms of this condition. Other signs that may point toward hypothyroidism include dry hair and skin, muscle aches, mood swings, sleeping problems, loss of appetite, and unusual sensitivity to the cold.13 14

10. Depression

Women have a higher risk of depression during pregnancy. It is thought that hormonal changes during pregnancy can influence brain chemicals and lead to anxiety and depression.15

Depression is a mood disorder that can affect your everyday life. Other than crying for no obvious reason, you may experience symptoms such as feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless, or low on energy. You may also lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy or sleep too much or too little if you have this condition. Depression can also come in more than one form, including:

  • Postpartum depression: Almost 80% of women experience the baby blues after giving birth. This is where you experience mild depressive symptoms which usually clear up in around 2 weeks. However, around 13% of women experience postpartum depression where you have strong feelings of sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety which make it difficult to take care of themselves and the baby. Interestingly, around 10% of fathers too experience postpartum depression.1617
  • Seasonal affective disorder: This is a form of depression that comes on during winter when you have less exposure to sunlight. It typically lifts during the spring or summer. SAD is usually accompanied by increased sleep, social withdrawal, and weight gain and recurs annually.18

References   [ + ]

1. Insomnia. National Health Service.
2. Simon, Eti Ben, Noga Oren, Haggai Sharon, Adi Kirschner, Noam Goldway, Hadas Okon-Singer, Rivi Tauman, Menton M. Deweese, Andreas Keil, and Talma Hendler. “Losing neutrality: the neural basis of impaired emotional control without sleep.” Journal of Neuroscience 35, no. 38 (2015): 13194-13205.
3. Depression: What is burnout?. National Institutes of Health.
4. Are you heading for burnout?. The Daily Mail.
5. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
6. Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause. Harvard Health Publishing.
7. Dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Harvard Health Publishing.
8. Sad After Sex? New Study Suggests ‘Postcoital Dysphoria’ Is Widespread. WBUR.
9. Pseudobulbar affect. National Institutes of Health.
10. Vitamin B12. National Institutes of Health.
11. Tufan, Ali Evren, Rabia Bilici, Genco Usta, and Ayten Erdoğan. “Mood disorder with mixed, psychotic features due to vitamin b12 deficiency in an adolescent: case report.” Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health 6, no. 1 (2012): 25.
12. Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). National Health Service.
13. Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). National Health Service.
14. Psychological Symptoms and Thyroid Disorders. British Thyroid Foundation.
15, 16. Depression in pregnant women and mothers: How it affects you and your child. Canadian Paediatric Society.
17. Common emotional problems in parents with new babies. Department of Health.
18. Depresssion. National Institutes of Health.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.