If you cry often, you may be experiencing symptoms of a health condition or chronic stress. Excessive crying also varies based on personality traits.

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Emotional tears are uniquely human, functioning as a distress signal designed to elicit support in the form of a prosocial response.

Crying can also feel cathartic, or relieving, as anyone who’s ever shed tears in private can attest.

But how much crying does a person usually do?

If you feel like you cry more than other people in your life, or more often than you have in the past, you might wonder why.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress can bring a range of emotions. It can also cause or worsen mental health issues like depression and anxiety, which can cause you to cry more.

The WHO indicates that stress is widespread enough to affect most people to some degree.

If you’re feeling emotionally volatile and prone to tears, a possible cause might be that you live with persistent or recently increased stress.

Anxiety is another possible cause of excessive crying.

The feelings of overwhelm and worry that accompany anxiety may cause a person to cry as an evolutionary self-preservation mechanism. This is because crying tends to elicit a helpful and nurturing response from those who witness it.

If you live with an anxiety disorder, or if you’ve been experiencing more anxiety-provoking stress, you may be prone to frequent bouts of crying.

An adjustment disorder is a mental health condition characterized by an unusually strong response to a significant life event.

Depending on the type of adjustment disorder you’re experiencing, sadness and crying may be among the emotions you experience.

For example, adjustment disorder with depressed mood lists tearfulness as one of its symptoms.

If you’ve experienced a recent upheaval or trauma in your life that has significantly impacted your mood, this could be the reason for your frequent crying.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) are examples of mood disorders that can cause a person to cry more than usual.

MDD can cause a person to feel low and sad most of the time.

A person living with BP may alternate between depressive episodes of sadness; contrasting with phases of mania or hypomania during which their mood and energy are elevated.

But during their depressive episodes, they may cry more than the average person.

Depression symptoms include:

Mood disorders often respond well to treatment. If you think you may be experiencing a mental health issue like MDD or BD, there’s a high likelihood you’ll feel better with treatment.

You can start with a visit to your family doctor who can suggest the right mental health professional to help you.

Hormonal changes can make a person more prone to tears.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) mentions perimenopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as two tearful, emotion-inducing times in a person’s life.

Pregnancy is another time in a person’s life when hormonal fluctuations may cause mood instability that can lead to crying. Emotional fluctuations are common at the beginning of pregnancy, and, for some people, are the first clue that they may be pregnant.

If you’re grieving, it’s natural to cry more than you have in the past. You may have experienced a loss that you’re still trying to process and cope with.

Disenfranchised grief can also cause emotional instability. This is grief that’s not viewed by society with the same validation as a significant loss like the death of a loved one.

Examples of disenfranchised grief include the loss of a pet, friendship, or job.

Sometimes, neurodivergent people are more prone to crying. Many live with cognitive or developmental differences that can affect emotions, including:

  • sensitivity
  • excitability
  • anxiety
  • rumination
  • stress
  • boredom
  • perfectionism

In addition, they may have experienced social trauma that can lead to overt emotional expression, or lived with masking that can result in burnout.

Cognitive profiles such as autism, giftedness, and ADHD are examples of neurodiversity.

PBA is a condition that occurs because of neurological disease. The swings in mood associated with this condition result from a disconnect between brain areas that usually work together to generate and mediate the expression of emotions.

Causes include:

  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • brain tumor
  • dementia
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • stroke
  • traumatic brain injury
  • Wilson’s disease

A person living with PBA may experience drastic expressions of mood, with no apparent cause. For example, they may be laughing uproariously, then suddenly begin weeping.

If you cry more than your family and friends, it might just reflect your innate temperament. A 2021 study found a positive connection between crying and the personality traits:

Older research from 2016 adds empathy to the list of temperament types that make a person more likely to cry.

The benefits of crying

Crying may help the body maintain homeostasis, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Research indicates a link between crying and slower heart rate and respiration in the face of stressful stimuli.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology indicates that emotional tears contain the stress hormone leu-enkephalin.

Researchers theorize that the release of leu-enkephalin through crying can help your body regulate homeostasis, but more studies are needed.

Was this helpful?

Despite the cathartic benefits of crying, there are times when you might want help to express this emotion less frequently.

It might be time to seek support if crying:

  • interferes with daily life
  • occurs frequently, without an identifiable cause
  • is difficult to control
  • accompanies other emotional, psychological, or physical symptoms

A good place to start is with your primary care doctor. They can refer you to a mental health professional if needed.

Crying is a natural human response. There are numerous reasons you might cry more than other people you know. Examples include:

  • hormones
  • personality
  • neurodivergence
  • mental health differences

While crying itself isn’t a bad thing, if it happens enough to interfere with your daily life, you may benefit from support.