The Tears We Hide: Exploring The Link Between Crying And Anxiety

Everyone is familiar with the feeling of shedding a few tears, but is crying just another emotion or is it actually a sign of something deeper? Understanding whether crying is a sign of anxiety is important in order to address any underlying issues and create a healthier mindset.

In this article, we’ll answer the question: is crying a sign of anxiety? We’ll look at the research, understand how and why people cry, and provide tips on how to move forward after dealing with an episode. Join us to find out more about this subject.

Crying: A Way To Express Our Inner-self

Crying is an emotional expression that humans use to communicate strong feelings of sorrow and pain. It’s a natural, physiological response that occurs when we experience deep emotions such as grief, hurt, or despair. Tears contain proteins, hormones, and other substances that our bodies produce in response to stress, sadness, or joy.

Everyone is born with a tendency to cry

Crying can be liberating and cathartic; it releases tension, helps us express our feelings, and can even make us feel better afterward. It can also give us clarity by helping us to process the situation we’re in. If you have ever cried yourself to sleep or had a good cry after a hard day, you already know how powerful this simple act of release can be.

Is Crying A Sign Of Anxiety

Crying is a natural response to stress, anxiety, and sadness. It is the body’s way of releasing these emotions and can have a calming effect. While crying is normal and can be helpful in dealing with difficult situations, it can also be a sign that an individual is experiencing high levels of anxiety

When someone experiences chronic stress or anxiety, they may find themselves overwhelmed by their emotions, leading to a breakdown in which they might cry uncontrollably. This type of crying is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness or despair. In some cases, the person may be unable to stop even after their initial emotional outburst has passed. 

Studies have found that individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders are more likely to experience frequent and intense bouts of crying. One study found that people with anxiety disorders were nearly three times as likely to report feeling sad, frustrated, or overwhelmed before starting to cry compared with those without an anxiety disorder.

These findings suggest that crying can be an indicator of higher levels of stress and/or anxiety. 

Another study found that people with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) reported significantly higher rates of sadness and frustration prior to crying than those without GAD. This suggests that individuals with GAD may experience increased levels of distress which leads them to cry more often than those without the condition. 

It’s important to remember that everyone experiences stress differently and there are many factors at play when it comes to why someone might cry in response to anxious thoughts or feelings they’re having. Additionally, there are many healthy ways to cope with anxious thoughts; activities such as meditation, exercise, and music therapy have all been proven effective means of managing symptoms associated with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

10 Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety-Induced Crying

If you have noticed that you have been crying more often than usual, it could be a sign that your anxiety levels are higher. Here are some signs and symptoms of anxiety-induced crying:

  1. Feelings of frustration or sadness.
  2. Feeling overwhelmed or powerless.
  3. Crying for long periods of time without being able to stop.
  4. A feeling of tightness in the chest or throat before starting to cry. 
  5. Waking up from sleep with tears in your eyes.
  6. Feeling exhausted after crying. 
  7. Feeling irritable and/or unable to concentrate. 
  8. An inability to express yourself in words when feeling distressed.
  9. Difficulty calming down after an episode of crying.
  10. Feeling like you can’t control your emotions.

Crying is a normal part of the human experience and can be an important way to release built-up emotions. If you are experiencing anxiety-induced crying, it is important to remember that there are many healthy ways to manage distress and get through difficult times.

​13 Causes Of Uncontrollable Crying Episodes

Uncontrollable crying episodes can have many different causes and no single trigger will apply to everyone. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Psychological Trauma: Psychological trauma is a type of trauma that affects the mind, causing feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror. It can be caused by events such as abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence. Those who have experienced this type of trauma may find themselves unable to control their emotions when they are reminded of the traumatic event, which can lead to excessive crying.
  1. Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders involve intense levels of worry and fear that interfere with an individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Common anxiety disorders include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, and social anxiety disorder. Those suffering from these conditions may experience frequent bouts of uncontrollable crying due to their high levels of worry and fear.
  1. Grief: Grief is a natural response to the loss or the death of a loved one. It is normal for individuals who are grieving to experience intense feelings of sadness, loneliness, and despair, which can lead to periods of uncontrollable crying.
  1. Depression: Depression is an emotional disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that interfere with an individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Those suffering from depression may find themselves unable to control their emotions, leading to episodes of excessive crying.
  1. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can cause fluctuations in emotions that lead to uncontrollable crying. These changes are often accompanied by feelings of sadness, frustration, and anxiety which can trigger tears.
  1. Low Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem is defined as a lack of confidence or feeling unworthy. Individuals with low self-esteem may find themselves overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings which can result in uncontrollable bouts of crying.
  1. Chronic Stress: Chronic stress is the body’s response to long-term physical or psychological demands placed on it. People who are suffering from chronic stress may find themselves unable to control their emotions, leading to episodes of excessive crying.
  1. Pseudobulbar affect: Pseudobulbar affect is an emotional disorder characterized by sudden outbursts of crying or laughing. Those suffering from PBA may find it difficult to control their emotions, leading to episodes of uncontrollable crying.
  1. Lack Of Sleep: Lack of sleep can cause a range of emotional symptoms including irritability, anxiety, and sadness. These feelings can lead to episodes of excessive crying when an individual is unable to control their emotions.
  1. Medication Side Effects: Certain medications used to treat mental health issues such as depression and anxiety may come with side effects that include changes in mood, irritability, and increased tearfulness. These side effects can result in periods of uncontrolled crying.
  1. Bipolar crying spells: Bipolar disorder is an emotional disorder characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania. Individuals with bipolar disorder may experience sudden bouts of crying due to their intense and unpredictable emotions. These episodes can be difficult to control and may last for extended periods of time.
  1. Pregnancy crying episodes: Pregnancy can cause hormonal changes that lead to intense feelings of sadness and anxiety. These emotions can trigger crying spells that are often difficult to control in pregnant women. However, these episodes usually resolve themselves after the baby is born.
  1. Postpartum Crying Episodes: It is not uncommon for new mothers to experience sudden bouts of uncontrolled crying shortly after giving birth. This phenomenon is known as postpartum depression and is caused by a combination of fatigue, stress, and hormones. While these episodes may be difficult to control, they typically pass within a few weeks.

These are just some of the possible causes of uncontrollable crying. It is important to remember that excessive crying can be a sign of an underlying mental health issue, and if you are experiencing this, it is important to seek professional help for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Is crying a sign of anxiety

10 Benefits Of Crying

Crying is an important part of the human experience. It can be therapeutic, cathartic, and even help to improve physical health. Here are 10 benefits of crying that everyone should know about.

  1. Reduces Stress: Crying helps to relieve built-up stress, tension, and anxiety by releasing hormones such as cortisol and endorphins. This can help to reduce the physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, muscle tension, and chest tightness.
  2. Increases Oxytocin Levels: Crying has been shown to increase levels of oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” because it helps promote feelings of love and bonding.
  3. Improves Mood: The release of endorphins that accompany crying can help to improve mood by reducing stress hormones and increasing feel-good hormones such as serotonin. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life overall.
  4. Promotes Mental Clarity: Research shows that crying can help people think more clearly by providing emotional clarity and helping to clear the mind.
  5. Enhances Self-Awareness: Crying can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and understanding of one’s emotions and thoughts. Examining why you are crying, can help to gain insight into yourself and your emotional state.
  6. Boosts Immune System: Crying helps to reduce stress hormones in the body which can lead to improved immunity and protection against illnesses such as colds, flu, and even cancer.
  7. Increases Pain Tolerance: The release of stress hormones that occur during crying has been shown to increase pain tolerance, allowing individuals to better cope with physical discomfort or pain.
  8. Reduces Negative Emotions: Crying is a natural way to release negative emotions and can help to reduce feelings of anger, frustration, fear, and sadness.
  9. Promotes Emotional Resilience: Crying helps to build emotional resilience by teaching us how to process our emotions and cope with difficult situations in constructive ways.
  10. Improves Self-Compassion: Crying can be seen as an act of self-compassion as it allows for the expression of genuine emotion which can lead to increased understanding of yourself and heightened levels of acceptance.

These are just some of the many benefits of crying. While it is not always easy or comfortable to cry, doing so can be a powerful tool for emotional healing and growth. So don’t be afraid to let yourself feel your emotions—it could end up being one of the best things you ever do!

What Does It Mean If You Randomly Start Crying And Hyperventilating?

If you randomly start crying and hyperventilating, it could be a sign of an underlying emotional issue or mental health condition. This could include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, or other psychological illnesses.

Crying and hyperventilating can also be triggered by stress, fatigue, hormones, physical pain, certain medications, or medical conditions such as thyroid disorders. It is important to seek help from a mental health professional if you are struggling with uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or hyperventilation in order to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. This could involve psychotherapy, medications, or lifestyle modifications depending on the underlying cause.

  • It could be a sign of an underlying emotional issue or mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or other psychological illnesses.
  • Crying and hyperventilating can also be triggered by stress, fatigue, hormones, and physical pain.
  • Certain medications or medical conditions such as thyroid disorders can cause crying and hyperventilation.

Is It An Anxiety Attack Or Am I Just Crying?

Do you ever find yourself in a state of emotional turmoil and wonder if it’s an anxiety attack or just normal emotions? It can be difficult to tell the difference and easy to feel overwhelmed. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of anxiety attacks and how they compare with crying so that you can better recognize what your body is telling you. 

What Is An Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is an intense period of fear or discomfort caused by extreme levels of stress. These episodes can involve physical as well as mental symptoms such as difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, dizziness, sweating, trembling, chest tightness or pain, nausea or vomiting, and feeling like one might faint. 

What Are The Differences Between An Anxiety Attack And Crying?

Crying often follows periods of stress and can feel very similar to the symptoms associated with an anxiety attack. However, there are some key differences between the two experiences. Here are some distinguishing factors to consider when trying to determine if you are having an anxiety attack or if you are just crying: 

  • Physical Symptoms: During an anxiety attack, there may be physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, nausea, or vomiting. During crying these signs may not be present; instead one may experience teary eyes and flushed cheeks. 
  •  Intensity: Anxiety attacks tend to be more intense than crying. Anxiety can cause feelings of panic and terror while crying tends to be more subdued with feelings of sadness predominating. 
  • Duration: The duration of an anxiety attack tends to be shorter than that of a crying episode; typically lasting anywhere from 10 minutes up to an hour in some cases. Crying usually lasts longer than this; potentially for several hours until one feels emotionally exhausted or relieved. 
  • Recovery: Recovery from an anxiety attack tends to involve relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or counting down from 10 very slowly in order to regain control over emotions and bodily sensations. Whereas recovering from crying usually involves simply allowing oneself time for self-care activities such as listening to music or taking a warm bath until emotions have calmed down enough for the individual to feel able to carry on with their day-to-day activities once again. 

18 Tips On How To Move Forward After An Episode

After experiencing a tearful episode, it’s important to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Here are 18 tips on how to move forward after an episode:

  1. Addressing anxiety: If you feel that underlying anxiety may have been the cause of your episode, consider seeking professional help to learn more about managing your anxiety.
  2. Acknowledge your feelings: It’s important to accept and acknowledge any emotions or sensations that you are feeling.
  3. Grounding techniques: Taking time out to practice grounding techniques such as breathing exercises, visualization, and mindfulness, can bring you back into the present moment. 
  4. Physical activity: Releasing physical energy through exercise can be a helpful way to reduce stress levels in order to prevent future episodes from occurring.
  5. De-stress rituals: Developing calming routines such as yoga or tai chi can help you manage the build-up of stress in daily life and create moments of peace throughout the day.
  6. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and emotions is a great way to express yourself and gain clarity on how you are feeling.
  7. Spend time with others: Spending time with friends or family can help you to feel more connected and supported in difficult times.
  8. Take a break from social media: Taking some time away from technology, such as your phone or computer, could give you the opportunity to focus on yourself and process any emotions that may need addressing.
  9. Get outside: Enjoying fresh air and natural beauty can be therapeutic and provide moments of peace throughout the day. 
  10. Listen to music: Music is a great way to distract your mind from intrusive thoughts and allow yourself to express emotions freely without judgment.
  11. Be kind to yourself: Self-kindness and self-compassion are important to practice when healing from any emotional experience.
  12. Take time out for yourself: Taking some ‘me’ time is essential in order to recharge and regain energy. 
  13. Practice meditation: Meditation has many beneficial effects such as reducing stress levels, and helping one to feel more confident and at ease with life events.
  14. Speak up about it: Talking openly about experiences helps us process our emotions, gain insight into ourselves, and also reduce feelings of shame or guilt associated with them.
  15. Challenge negative thoughts: Try to reframe any negative thoughts or beliefs that may be influencing your emotions in a more positive light.
  16. Allow yourself to grieve: Grieving is an important part of the healing process; try not to rush this stage of recovery as it may take some time before you begin to feel better again.
  17. Find Healthy Coping Strategies: Find activities that make you feel better, such as yoga, mindfulness, journaling, or talking walks outside in nature. These activities can help relieve stress and anxiety at the moment and give you tools for managing future episodes of distress.
  18. Practice self-care: Taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, going for a walk, or engaging in other activities that make you feel relaxed and at ease can help reduce stress levels.

Healing from anything takes time

These tips can help you move forward after an episode and become more resilient to future events. It is important to remember that healing is not a linear process, so be gentle with yourself and take things one step at a time. It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently when going through difficult experiences, so finding what works best for you is key in order to helping you cope.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is stress crying?

Stress crying is a physical response to emotional distress. It can be caused by situations such as overwhelming stress, the loss of a loved one, traumatic experiences, or even intense happiness. Tears are the body’s way of releasing and expressing emotion in times of need.

Why am I crying so easily?

Crying easily can be a sign of emotional distress, particularly if you find yourself crying in response to everyday events. It is important to take time to process your emotions by speaking with someone or journaling. Additionally, seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, may be beneficial in order to address any underlying issues that may be causing intense emotions.

Is crying an effect of anxiety?

Yes, crying can be a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety often leads to overwhelmed emotions and intense feelings of distress. It is important to seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with your emotions in order to better manage your mental health.

Is it normal to cry every day?

It is not necessarily considered ‘normal’ to cry every day, as everyone experiences different emotions in different ways. However, frequent bouts of crying could be a sign that something deeper may need addressing such as underlying stress or emotional pain. If this persists, it could be beneficial to reach out for professional help in order to understand and address any issues that may be causing distress.

Why does anxiety make me cry?

Anxiety can often lead to overwhelming emotions and intense feelings of distress. Stressful or difficult situations can make it hard for us to cope with our emotions, leading to tears. It is important to seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with your emotions in order to better manage your mental health.


Gračanin, A., Bylsma, L. M., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2014). Is crying a self-soothing behavior? Frontiers in Psychology, 5.

Norris, T. (2018, November 13). What’s Causing My Uncontrollable Crying? Healthline.

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