“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Anxiety Crying For No Reason Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: August 11, 2019


crying anxiety spells anxiety symptoms

Can anxiety cause crying for no reason? Yes, it can. Anxiety, chronic stress, and depression can cause anxiety crying spells for no reason. Is it ok to cry when you have anxiety? It depends on how much crying and for how long. What causes anxiety crying spells and how to stop them? We explain that next.

 


The Anxiety Crying For No Reason symptoms common descriptions:

  • You feel like crying all the time.
  • You have anxiety crying spells for no reason.
  • You have unexpected and unexplained crying anxiety spells.
  • You cry, but you can’t figure out why since you aren’t sad about anything in particular.
  • You frequently feel like crying, which is uncharacteristic of you.
  • Even though you feel sad enough to cry, you aren’t sure why you feel this way.
  • Once you start anxiety crying, you have a hard time stopping.
  • You uncharacteristically cry uncontrollably and for no reason.
  • You find many things make you feel sad enough to cry, which is unlike how you usually feel.
  • You experience frequent crying spells out-of-the-blue and for no reason.
  • You feel unusually sad and tearful, but you aren’t sure why.
  • You cry for no reason, yet you feel you can’t stop.
  • You feel weepy and sad but can’t put your finger on why.
  • You feel so emotional that you cry all the time.

Anxiety crying can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you have a crying spell once in a while and not that often, have crying spells off and on, or feel like weeping most of the time.

Anxiety crying can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Crying spells can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Anxiety crying can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where you cry uncontrollably one moment, and it suddenly eases off the next.

Anxiety crying and crying spells can change from day to day, and from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

Medical Advisory

What causes anxiety crying for no reason symptoms?

Humans experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, from love to hate, joy to sadness, peace to upsetness, and so on. Experiencing emotion is an essential part of a normal life experience.

Emotions bring color to our world and are a reflection of how we think about life. It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions from day to day.

Just as thoughts change our biology, thoughts also change our emotions. The body’s physical makeup can also influence how we feel emotionally. With this in mind, there are five main ways anxiety and crying are linked:

1. Anxiety

Anxiety, which is based on fear, elicits one of the body’s most powerful emotional responses.[1][2][3] These powerful emotional responses can affect other emotions, such as sadness and feeling like crying.

Fear can also cause some people to cry if they believe they are powerless and vulnerable to a serious threat.

So, anxiety itself can cause unexplained crying spells.

2. Anxiety Attacks and Panic

Anxiety can occur from mild to severe. Severe forms of anxiety are often referred to as anxiety attacks and panic. Anxiety that occurs in the higher degrees can cause even stronger emotional reactions. These strong emotional reactions can cause some people to cry.

Moreover, some people cry even after an anxiety or panic attack has ended due to the after effects of experiencing such strong episodes of anxiety. If you are having anxiety crying spells in conjunction with anxiety and panic attacks, know that they will subside as the body recovers from the effects of high degree anxiety.

3. Chronic stress (hyperstimulation)

Stress, and more so, chronic stress (which we call hyperstimulation) causes profound brain function changes.[4][5] These changes can affect our thinking and emotional processing. Many people experience emotional instability, such as emotional flipping, emotions feel numb, emotions feel wrong, and emotional spiking when chronically stressed.

There are many reasons for this, including:

1. Hypersensitive nervous system

Chronic stress can lead to nervous system hypersensitivity.[6][7] Hypersensitivity can amplify the stimuli we encounter, making it seem like our senses are set to “maximum receive.”[8]

As such, sensory information we usually receive at lower levels becomes amplified. The amount of amplification is directly proportional to the degree of hypersensitivity – higher levels of hyperstimulation and hypersensitivity produce higher levels of sensory reception.

Therefore, hyperstimulation can cause everyday stimuli to seem more dramatic and overpowering, causing overly dramatic responses, such as having anxiety crying spells “out of the blue” and for no reason.

2. Hypersensitivity can cause dramatic emotional responses

Many anxious people place great importance on how they feel physically and emotionally. When sensory messages are amplified, they can respond in overly dramatic ways. The more stressed the body becomes, the more reactive and emotional they become.[9] Overly emotional reactions can lead to what seems like uncontrollable crying spells.

3. Hyperstimulation can cause emotional instability

Chronic stress can cause the body to act erratically and more involuntarily than normal.[10] This erratic and more involuntary behavior can cause emotions to become unstable and unpredictable.[9] Out of the blue crying spells are an example of this erratic and more involuntary behavior.

I (Jim Folk) experienced many anxiety crying spells during my struggle with anxiety disorder. I remember episodes where I cried uncontrollably but didn’t have any reason for doing so. My body just seemed like it wanted to cry regardless if I had a reason. There were also many times I found myself crying, yet I didn’t feel sad or had any reason to cry. My body just wanted to cry.

Emotional instability, a common symptom of anxiety and hyperstimulation, can also manifest itself in other ways. For example, as previously mentioned, many anxiety disorder sufferers experience emotional blunting (no emotions, flat, emotionless), emotional flipping (suddenly going from one mood to another), or emotional spiking (becoming super emotional—sorrowful, fearful, excited, depressed) for no identifiable reason.

4. Stress hormones affect other hormones

Chronic stress (hyperstimulation) increases cortisol production overall.[11] Cortisol is one of the body’s most powerful hormones. An increase in this stress hormone can affect other hormones.[12] Hormonal instability can affect mood and lead to crying spells.

Women can be particularly affected, especially during dramatic hormone fluctuations, such as during monthly cycles, pregnancy, and change of life.

4. Depression

Feeling hopeless, helpless, and trapped is a common cause of depression. Feeling depressed can cause crying spells.[13]

Many anxiety disorder sufferers feel like they are hopelessly and helplessly trapped in a struggle with anxiety disorder, which can lead to depression and episodes of anxiety crying and feeling blue.

Moreover, feeling depressed stresses the body. An increase in stress can exacerbate chronic stress and lead to more crying spells. Sometimes these factors can set up a negative cycle where one fuels the other.

5. Side effects of medication

Crying can be a side effect of many medications. Beta-blockers, corticosteroids, antipsychotics, antidepressants, hormone-altering drugs, stimulants, anticonvulsants, Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), statins, and anticholinergic drugs are common medications that cause crying as a side effect.

How do you stop anxiety crying spells and crying emotionally?

To stop anxiety crying, the appropriate cause needs to be identified and addressed. For instance:

1. Address your anxiety issues

When crying spells are caused by anxiety, addressing your anxiety issues will eliminate anxiety crying. As you replace anxious behavior with healthy behavior, you will cease creating anxiety, the stress it causes, and anxiety crying spells.

Addressing your anxiety issues can also prevent anxiety attacks and panic. Eliminating anxiety attacks and panic will also eliminate anxiety crying spells caused by anxiety and panic attacks.

Good self-help information, such as the self-help information and support in our Recovery Support area, can be helpful in this regard. The more you know, the better off you are.

Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder and its many symptoms, including anxiety crying spells. You should seriously consider working with a therapist if your anxiety disorder and symptoms are having a major impact on your health and lifestyle.

2. Eliminate chronic stress

Reducing and eliminating chronic stress (hyperstimulation) will also eliminate anxiety and crying spells. As your body recovers from hyperstimulation, you should experience fewer and fewer spells of anxiety and crying.

Eliminating your body’s chronic stress can also help stabilize other hormones. Many of our Recovery Support members and therapy clients have noticed an improvement in how they feel physically and emotionally from merely reducing their stress and eliminating hyperstimulation.

3. Change or stop medications

If the side effects of medication are causing your anxiety crying spells, talk with your doctor and pharmacist about switching to a different medication or stopping altogether.

NEVER stop any medication without talking with your doctor or pharmacist first. Some medications can cause serious problems if discontinued abruptly.

4. A change of attitude

While placing great emphasis on emotions might seem like a good way to live, it has its drawbacks, such as causing issues with anxiety and depression, to name two.

Often we grow up learning to behave in certain ways that we think are normal. But too often, our learned and habituated behaviors aren’t healthy, which then become the primary source of a struggle with mental and physical health issues.

For instance, if you overreact emotionally to situations and circumstances that don’t warrant an overreaction, your body will pay a higher stress price than those who are less reactive. This higher stress price can take a toll on the body and cause a number symptoms, including feeling even more emotional and reactive.

Research has shown that chronic stress is a contributing factor to the development of mental illness, such as anxiety disorder, depression, and other mood disorders.[14][15]

Learning healthy ways of experiencing and expressing emotions can reduce a significant amount of stress, and with it, the risk of developing mental health problems.

5. Seek therapy

The help of a professional anxiety disorder therapist can help you make healthy behavioral change that overcomes issues with anxiety and its symptoms, including anxiety crying spells. Working with a professional anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder and its symptoms.[16][17][18]

Since we can all make behavioral change with the right information, help, and support, no one needs to suffer with anxiety disorder or its symptoms. The road to recovery is well-known, well-traveled, and proven. Visit our anxiety testimonials page for examples of recovery success!

Anxiety Crying For No Reason FAQs

Do you cry when you have anxiety?

Yes, you can. As you just read, there are many reasons why anxiety can cause crying spells. Anxiety itself, anxiety attacks and panic attacks, chronic stress, anxiety-caused depression, and side effects of medication can all cause anxiety crying spells. Read above for more information.

Does crying help relieve anxiety?

Yes, it can as long as you cry in moderation. Excessive and over-emotional crying stresses the body,[19][20] which can exacerbate anxiety and stress. While occasional crying can release pent up emotions and reduce stress, which is healthy, frequent and dramatic crying could compound anxiety, stress, and their symptoms, including anxiety crying spells.

Is it OK to cry when you have anxiety?

Yes, it’s okay to cry when you have anxiety. Crying in moderation can help relieve pent up emotions. But crying too frequently or dramatically stresses the body, which can exacerbate anxiety and stress causing them to persist and even cause an increase in symptoms.

How to stop crying instantly?

Sadness is an emotion, which is most often caused by the ways we think. Emotions are temporary and can be stopped or changed by changing our thinking. If you want to stop crying instantly, change your thinking to something pleasant, funny, upbeat, hopeful, or exciting. In a few moments your emotions will change.

How to stop crying instantly or when upset?

Here are some other ways to stop crying when you want to or when you are upset:

  • Change your breathing to a slower, diaphragmatic, more relaxed breath. This type of breathing relaxes the body. A relaxed body can also calm emotions. Also, breathing through your nose rather than through your mouth can help, as nasal breathing is more beneficial than mouth breathing for relaxation and focus.[21] Relaxed diaphragmatic breathing activates the body’s natural tranquilizing effect. As the body calms, we feel more in control of our emotions.
  • Talk with a friend.
  • Relax your body. As your body’s muscles relax, the body’s natural tranquilizing effect engages making you feel more relaxed emotionally.
  • Change the direction of your focus. Shifting your focus to something fun, interesting, or exciting changes thought patterns, which can change emotions.
  • Smile. Research has found even forcing a smile can change your mood.
  • Relax the muscles in your face. Relaxing facial muscles can loosen those that often tense up when crying.
  • Change environments. Leaving the situation and changing environments can end crying.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Spend time outdoors, or preferably, in nature. Research has found that spending time in nature dramatically reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Stimulate your vagus nerve, which stimulates the nervous system responsible for calming the body. You can do that by relaxing the muscles in your abdomen. As your body calms, your mood will change.
  • Exercise. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins that can change moods and end crying.
  • Change your thinking. As mentioned earlier, changing your thinking and attitude changes emotions, since thinking is the primary driver of emotions. Thinking about pleasant, happy, funny, or exciting things will change emotions away from sad and crying.

Does crying raise your blood pressure?

It can, but only temporarily with normal crying. Crying stimulates the sympathetic nervous system,[19] which stresses the body. Therefore, crying stresses the body. Stress increases blood pressure. While occasional crying can be a benefit and reduce stress, too frequent or dramatic crying can stress the body and raise blood pressure.

Can crying kill you?

No, crying can’t kill you, but it could aggravate an underlying medical condition if that condition is aggravated by stress. In many cases, crying is cathartic and a healthy expression of emotion. But don't cry too much or often, as crying does stress the body. Occasional crying is beneficial whereas too frequent anxiety crying isn’t, and can lead to a depressed mood, which also stresses the body.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms section.


REFERENCES:

1. Shin, Lisa, et al. "The Neurocircuitry of Fear, Stress, and Anxiety Disorders." Neuropsychopharmacology, Jan. 2010.

2. Steimer, Thierry. "The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors." Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 4 Sep. 2002.

3. Godoy, Livea, et al. "A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications." Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, July 2018.

4. Justice, Nicholas J., et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Like Induction Elevates β-Amyloid Levels, Which Directly Activates Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Neurons to Exacerbate Stress Responses.” Journal of Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 11 Feb. 2015.

5. Mariotti, Agnese. “The Effects of Chronic Stress on Health: New Insights into the Molecular Mechanisms of Brain–Body Communication.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2015.

6. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017.

7. Salim, Samina, "Oxidative Stress and the Central Nervous System." The Journal Of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, January 2017.

8. Healthline.com, "What Is Sensory Overload?" March 2019.

9. Schneiderman, Neil, et al. "STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants." Annual Review  of Clinical Psychology, 16 Oct. 2008,

10. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.

11. Lucassen, Paul J., et al. “Neuropathology of stress.” NCBI PubMed, 8 Dec. 2013.

12. Ranabir, Salam, et al. "Stress and hormones." Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Mar. 2011.

13. Berry, Jennifer. “What Does Depression Feel like?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 11 July 2018.

14. Toussaint, Loren, et al. "Effects of lifetime stress exposure on mental and physical health in young adulthood: How stress degrades and forgiveness protects health." Journal of Health Psychology, 21 June 2016.

15. Sanders, Robert. “New Evidence That Chronic Stress Predisposes Brain to Mental Illness.” Berkeley News, 12 Oct. 2016.

16. David, Daniel, et al. “Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Current Gold Standard of Psychotherapy.” US National Library of Medicine, 29, Jan. 2018.

17. Hofmann, Stefan, et al. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses.” US National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012.

18. Leahy, Robert L. “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Proven Effectiveness.Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, Nov. 2011.

19. Bylsma, LM, et al. "The neurobiology of human crying." Clinical Autonomic Research, 29 Feb. 2019,

20. Gross, JJ, et al. "The psychophysiology of crying." Psychophysiology, Sep. 1994.

21. Zaccaro, Andrea, et al. "How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7 Sep. 2018.


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