Depression And Crying Spells: Understanding The Link
Crying is a natural response to high levels of distress. Many patients with Major Depressive Disorder report the occurrence of crying spells.
Crying spells can be described as intense bouts of crying that are uncontrollable and frequent.
Somewhere at the back of your mind, you know its kind of weird to cry over mundane things or sometimes cry even without a reason but your logic is overruled. Somewhat like your brain circuitry is hijacked.
DSM-V acknowledges appears tearful or about to cry as one of the symptoms of depressed mood in clinical depression.
As far as scientific literature is concerned, there has been very limited research on crying as a symptom of depression. It makes sense since it is kind of difficult to study this aspect in humans.
Nevertheless, we will be going over the available research on crying and depression and why crying spells occur in depression.
Why Anxiety Can Make You Cry
Anxiety can be an overwhelming condition more than people realize. Millions of people living with anxiety disorders can handle themselves every day. These people often feel like the anxiety is manageable though it is affecting their lives.
However, the more a person struggles with anxiety, the harder it may be to manage the associated emotions. Anxiety puts the body under tremendous stress, and it takes energy and resources to reduce that anxiety. Anxiety can be powerful so powerful that the stress associated with it essentially hits your body with a non-stop barrage of physical and mental symptoms. Symptoms dont always generate further emotions, but they wear you down and reduce your ability to cope with and tolerate an experience.
Physical Symptoms You Didnt Realise Depression Could Cause
Many people dont realise that depression can have a very real affect on your whole body – not just your mind.
Most people will agree that depression can cause emotional symptoms feeling sad, low, down, numb But what many dont realise is that depression can have a very real effect on your body as a whole.
We are taking a look at seven common but surprising physical symptoms of depression.
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Why Cant I Cry Anymore
To answer why I cant cry anymore it is important to ask yourself first if you still experience feelings of sadness but it is only that the tears dont come out of your eyes or is it that your emotions have changed and you dont feel like crying anymore.
If you cant cry anymore, even though you feel your emotions the same way you always did, it is just that the tears are not coming out, it might mean you have a medical condition that can make it hard to cry.
It can be an eye condition, or maybe you are taking some medications that make it hard for your body to produce tears, it can also be because of the climate where you live, or you and eye surgery.
If thats not the case, and you feel your emotions have changed recently, not crying can be a sign of some mental conditions. It can be that you have Snowdonia, which means that you are unable to feel picks of emotions, be it good or bad.
It might also be a sign of depression, although people may think a person with depression will cry all the time, in some cases they might have trouble crying. Aside from that, you might be repressing your emotions, not permitting yourself to cry.
Take Care Of Your Body
A healthy body can help you manage stress. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep, eat healthy food, stay hydrated and exercise regularly. Go easy on the caffeine. Shorting yourself on sleep, and especially pulling an all-nighter, robs you of energy and your ability to concentrate. A healthy diet improves your ability to learn. Don’t skip breakfast.
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Alterations In Connectivity In Brain Areas In Major Depression May Cause Crying Spells
In the sections above, we learnt about certain areas of the brain that are involved in regulating crying.
These include periaqueductal grey, cerebellum, anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala etc.
Recent brain imaging studies have shown that Major Depressive Disorder involves alterations in structure and function of various brain areas.
Alterations in periaqueductal grey brain area lower the ability to cope with life stress
Periaqueductal grey is an area of grey matter present in the midbrain. It is involved in pain modulation, fear, anxiety and heart activity.
Dysfunction of brain cells in the periaqueductal grey area may lower motivation and make it difficult to cope with life stress in depression. This area may also be involved in panic.
Stress may affect the activity of neurotransmitters in the periaqueductal grey region and induce feelings of despair and anhedonia and lower the ability to cope with stress.
Disrupted connectivity in Anterior Cingulate Cortex may contribute to anhedonia in MDD
The anterior cingulate cortex is a part of the brain that connects the emotional limbic system and the cognitive prefrontal cortex. It helps manage uncomfortable emotions and disturbances in its function may contribute to substance abuse, binge eating etc.
It is also involved in processes such as controlling blood pressure, heart rate, decision making, attention etc.
This may be associated with depression severity and other symptoms such as anhedonia and lowered motivation.
Alterations In Brain Chemistry In Depression May Cause Crying Spells
One of the central concepts about the biological causes of depression is the monoamine hypothesis.
It is said that there is an imbalance in neurotransmitters- chemicals in the brain that support its optimal function, which causes symptoms of depression such as persistent low mood, rumination, gut issues etc.
Emotional crying also involves neurotransmitters such as serotonin, acetylcholine, neuropeptides and endogenous opioids.
This suggests that imbalance in these neurotransmitter levels may contribute to crying spells.
While this has not yet been examined in clinical studies involving patients with Major Depressive Disorder, there are a few studies that show that influencing neurotransmitter levels can alter the emotional crying response.
Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that metabolises or breaks down neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
Higher levels of monoamine oxidase in certain parts of the brain such as prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex are associated with increased predisposition to crying in postpartum depression.
Van der Veen and colleagues demonstrated that administration of antidepressants that modulate serotonin function reduces emotional crying in healthy, young females.
Contrastingly, a case series presented by Holguin-Lew and Bell revealed that treatment with antidepressants specifically Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors impairs the ability to cry.
Inability to cry may be one of the side effects of SSRI treatment.
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Crying Can Mean Getting It Together Not Falling Part
Who hasnt been told to stop being a baby or to man up for letting out their emotions?
Parents often tell kids not to cry a stiff upper lip is a sign of growing up. As adults, we either try not to cry, or wonder: Why do I keep crying all the time? As if crying is a bad thing.
These societal norms have consequences that rob us of our built-in tool against depression.
When we bottle up our emotions, we miss the benefits of crying. Its not always convenient, and sometimes it makes us too vulnerable for the current situation. But it should be ok to keep crying.
While the time and place matter, there are reasons to let the waterworks flow. The health and happiness benefits might convince you to welcome some weeping.
Mental Health Conditions: Depression And Anxiety
Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day. When a sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with normal, everyday functioning, you may be depressed. Symptoms of depression include:1
- Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
- Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
- Feeling irritable easily frustrated or restless
- Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Waking up too early or sleeping too much
- Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
- Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Feeling tired even after sleeping well
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
The following information is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis of major depression and cannot take the place of seeing a mental health professional. If you think you are depressed talk with your doctor or a mental health professional immediately. This is especially important if your symptoms are getting worse or affecting your daily activities.
The exact cause of depression is unknown. It may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.2 Everyone is different but the following factors may increase a persons chances of becoming depressed:1
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What Can I Do If I Have Morning Depression
Think of doing things one step at a time
When you wake up and you are feeling depressed even the smallest of steps, such as getting out of bed, might seem impossible.
If that is the case, try to avoid thinking of all the things that need to be done during the day. When you think of all that, aside from all the sadness you are feeling, you can also feel overwhelmed about the pressure of it all.
Try to think of it as small tasks, first get up, then breakfast, maybe take the pet for a walk, keep it as simple as possible.
Change your routine to a way that fits you
If you feel that doing activities in the morning is hard for you, try to prepare, as much as you can for it, the night before.
If you study or work, try to prepare your things the night before, maybe leave part of your breakfast ready. By doing that, once you wake up the list of things to do will be smaller, and that can give you a little relief from the pressure you might feel.
Aside from that, try to plan your routine in a way that you dont have that many responsibilities in the morning. Maybe talk to a boss about changing your time to getting in and out of work, since in the afternoon you feel a little better and that can even impact how productive you are at your job.
Try to do some exercise
Especially for people with morning depression, trying to do some outdoor activity in the morning might help them feel better during the day.
Try to establish a sleep time routine
Seek the help of a professional
Hidden Signs Of Depression
If you have these hidden signs of depression or know someone who does, don’t struggle alone. There is no reason to suffer for years when help is readily available.
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How To Know If Depression Is Causing You To Cry
Its important to note that crying is part of being human and everyone experiences bouts of crying from time to time. Some people are more tearful than others by nature, but that doesnt automatically point to depression. Signs that crying might be related to depression include:
- Crying without fully knowing why
- Easily crying over little things
- Crying more often or for longer periods than whats typical for you
- Difficulty stopping your tears once they start
As miserable as it can be, depression crying serves useful functions. Understanding them can help you give yourself, and your tears, a break.
When Are Tears A Problem
There are times when crying can be a sign of a problem, especially if it happens very frequently and/or for no apparent reason, or when crying starts to affect daily activities or becomes uncontrollable. Conversely, people suffering from certain kinds of clinical depression may actually not be able to cry, even when they feel like it. In any of these situations, it would be best to see a medical professional who can help diagnose the problem and suggest appropriate treatment.
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Talking To Your Doctor
It can be hard to start a conversation about mental health with your doctor or healthcare provider. If you are unsure where to start, mention any concerns to your primary care provider.
Other tips for speaking with a healthcare provider about mental health include:
- Prepare before the visit, listing any medications you take, questions you have, and family history.
- Consider bringing a friend or relative for support.
- Be honest about any symptoms you have been having.
- Ask questions.
Difficulty Experiencing Joy Or Connection
When were depressed, it can take all of the enjoyment out of the things we love and make it more difficult for us to connect to those closest to us. We may begin to lose interest in hobbies, friendships, schoolwork, social activities, sex or life in general. When this happens, we may find ourselves feeling isolated from friends, family members or others who care about us.
Read Also: Taking Antidepressants But Still Depressed
Symptom #6 Youre Never In The Mood
For many people, depression has a marked impact on sexual libido whether its due to emotional reasons or physical reasons . Even anti-depressants can affect peoples sex drive.
Whatever the case, its worth talking to your doctor about a change in sex drive, to pinpoint the cause and find a solution sometimes a simple change in medication or treatment can help. It might feel awkward, but remember, doctors are professionals and its their job to help.
Stigmas About Mental Health
Research has shown that, generally, women receive a diagnosis of depression twice as often as men. Studies have been performed to look for reasons why this occurs.
There has been discussion and research about men having different depressive symptoms. One possible reason for this is because traditional symptoms of depression like crying or feeling sad may be viewed as not masculine by society.
Some studies have suggested men may experience more externalizing symptoms like irritability, bouts of anger, substance use, self-destructive behavior, or increasing their work. These ideas stem from the thought that men may struggle going against the traditional gender norms, and present their depression differently.
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Other Types Of Depression
There are different types of depression, and some conditions where depression may be one of the symptoms. These include:
- postnatal depression sometimes new mothers, fathers or partners develop depression after they have a baby this is known as postnatal depression and it’s treated in a similar way to other types of depression, with talking therapies and antidepressant medicines
- bipolar disorder also known as “manic depression”, in bipolar disorder there are spells of both depression and excessively high mood the depression symptoms are similar to clinical depression, but the bouts of mania can include harmful behaviour, such as gambling, going on spending sprees and having unsafe sex
- seasonal affective disorder also known as “winter depression”, SAD is a type of depression with a seasonal pattern usually related to winter
Symptom #1 Chest Pain
Firstly, if youre experiencing chest pain of any kind, it is extremely important that you get it checked immediately to rule out heart attacks and other serious conditions.
But, chest pain can actually be linked to depression. Seems strange, but there is a good reason: depression often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and panic attacks, which are typically felt in the chest.
In fact studies have shown that depression is one of the more common explanations of chest pain, making this a helpful indicator for diagnosis.
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Why Do I Cry So Much
Its one thing to feel the need to cry after a particularly hard day. But some people feel that they need to randomly cry, and others are shocked at how uncontrollable their tears are. It is as though a waterfall is coming from their eyes, sometimes at surprising times.
That instinct is often just emotion trying to find its way out. Anxiety is excitatory to the body it activates the fight or flight system. Your desire to cry may be related to the way your body is reacting to that system, with the intense emotions and stress during that time overwhelming the body.
Fear is scary, and your flight mode may trigger your body to produce large amounts of tears as a way to let out that stress.
To some, crying may also become a habitual response. Once you become used to crying as a way of relieving anxiety and stress, you may subsequently develop a habit of crying when you experience that stress because it provides emotional relief.