The first thing we do when we come into the world is cry, and, throughout our lives, we use crying to convey a vast spectrum of emotions.
We cry when we are sad, to signal others that we need emotional support.
We cry when we’re angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, desperate, we cry of relief.
We cry when watching a sad movie or when a song touches us.
We can also cry tears of joy.
Despite the bad reputation that crying gets, it’s a natural human response with an evolutionary purpose. Physically, it lubricates the eyes and flushes out foreign bodies like dust and debris. Emotionally, crying can help communicate emotions that are hard to put into words and give us a feeling of relief.
And yet, not everyone cries in the same way. While some people tear up easily, others may find it hard to cry, and the latter can feel quite confusing, especially if you want to cry, but simply can’t.
There are both physical and emotional reasons for why you can’t cry anymore. Here are seven of the most common causes behind your inability to cry and what you can do about it.
First of all, we should start by pointing out that there is no right or wrong amount of crying. Everyone has their own threshold and deals with emotions differently. Crying too much can be a warning sign that you’re going through a challenging time or that you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. At the same, not being able to cry at all can also become a problem and prevent you from expressing your emotions and connecting with others. The inability to cry can be caused by several factors: physical, environmental, and emotional.
Dry eye syndrome (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is a condition where your eyes don’t produce enough tears, and they become dry and inflamed. There are many causes behind dry eye syndrome, including age, menopause, thyroid imbalances, and the use of contact lenses.
Certain medications, such as birth control pills, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and SSRIs, can decrease tear production. Laser eye surgery may also temporarily cause an inability to cry.
Living in a dry climate or in areas with wildfires makes your tears evaporate quickly, which could lead you to believe that you cannot cry.
Contrary to popular belief, depression doesn’t necessarily manifest through constant crying. There are many types of depression, and one of them, melancholic depression, may make you feel emotionally flat and disconnected. As a result, you may find it hard to respond to events, hence the inability to cry.
is a component of depressive disorders, substance-related disorders, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders that causes a lack of interest in enjoyable activities. People struggling with anhedonia no longer take pleasure in the things they used to love, but they can also have a reduced response to negative stimuli, and thus be emotionally numb and unable to cry.
If you find it hard to process your emotions, it can be easier to bottle them up and “put on a brave face”. But if this becomes a habit, you’ll become more out of tune with your emotions and gradually lose your ability to cry.
Societal pressures about crying.
Certain beliefs embedded into us by society can make us believe that crying is a sign of weakness or something to be embarrassed about. This is more common in men, who are often thought that “men don’t cry” (statistically, men also cry less than women), but you can also have trouble crying if, growing up, you were punished for it or saw your parents repressing their emotions.
If your inability to cry is caused by emotional factors, here are a few things you can do to get in tune with your emotions and cry again:
Many people don’t cry because something led them to believe that crying is wrong. In reality, crying is a normal, healthy, and natural emotional response. It’s not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it shows that you are acknowledging and processing your emotions.
Emotions can be quite elusive, and if we don’t know what exactly we’re feeling, we’re not prepared to deal with them. Start by analysing your emotions: understand what you are feeling, and try to pinpoint the cause. Oftentimes, we are in a bad state of mind and don’t know what’s wrong, but after discovering the cause, it’s easier to cope with it, including with the help of tears.
We all cope with emotions in different ways, and you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to react like someone else. For example, if you have lost a loved one and did not cry, you might feel guilty about it because other people are doing it. However, guilt is a complicated emotion that manifests in many ways. What’s more important is to express your emotions in a healthy way. One outlet is to talk to your friends and family about what you’re going through and how it makes you feel. If you don’t have a social support group or don’t feel comfortable confiding in others just yet, there are other ways to express yourself. Try writing your thoughts down in a journal, or try a creative activity, such as drawing or singing. Even something as simple as saying how you feel out loud can help!
We all experience negative emotions from time to time, but if those emotions are buried deep down, they can prevent us from moving on and expressing ourselves. A therapist can help you understand what you are feeling, process those emotions in a healthy way, and learn to express them. If you have gone through a traumatic experience that made you emotionally numb and unable to cry, or you suspect that your inability to cry is a symptom of depression, therapy can be a cathartic and liberating experience.