In this article we will discuss why you can’t cry even if you have depression. We will also touch upon why emotional expression through crying is healthy and what you can do to achieve that emotional release.
Why can’t I cry even if I have depression?
If you can’t cry, even when you have depression, rest assured that it is more common than you think.
Being unable to cry can be caused by various problem and factors such as:
- Shame and cultural stigma
- Certain medications
- Gender stereotypes
- Emotional troubles
- Past traumas
- Underlying medical conditions
Crying: is it good or bad?
Crying is neither a good thing or a bad thing, however excessive crying isn’t always a good sign.
If you find yourself tearing up often, it could indicate that you’re experiencing a lot of emotional distress which could also indicate mental health issues.
There is no shame in the amount of tears you are shedding over a particular issue or no issue at all, everyone is different and some people find it easier to tear up than others.
While some people may cry at anything, other people may experience fewer emotional upheavals, or have different ways to express their emotions.
That being said, if your inability to cry worries you or you’re struggling to connect with your feelings, it is important you understand what could be the reason.
Crying often gets a bad reputation because of various unhealthy constructs related to emotional vulnerability. Sometimes it’s mistakenly seen as a sign of weakness or immaturity.
However, crying can do a lot of good for us. It can signal to other people when we’re feeling weepy, that we need help. Crying is also a way to acknowledge painful or challenging emotions that are buried deep down.
Crying allows us to express challenging emotions when we can’t find the words, and it may offer a sense of relief.
Let us take a look at some common reasons why you are finding it difficult to cry.
Possible reasons why you are unable to cry
Shame and cultural stigma
It is actually common for some people to not be able to cry in adulthood due to negative associations such as embarrassment and cultural expectations of being an adult.
When you are an adult, even with or without depression, you are expected to have control over your emotions and negative adaptations can sometimes contribute more distress.
Certain medications can also play a role in emotional blunting. According to research, between 46% and 71% of antidepressant users have experienced emotional blunting during treatment.
If you are under medication to treat depression, the antidepressants that have been found to emotional blunt people who take them include- selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants.
Some people can’t cry because they are taught not to as a child because of their gender. This is especially true for men who are often taught maladaptive gender associations related to emotions.
That men are strong, and boys don’t cry. These types of stereotypes can shunt a person’s ability to cry or even feel and experience their emotions.
Abuse toward children involves creating fear related to experience of showing emotion- often causing them to repress their emotions.
This fear can permeate into adulthood where the fear to express emotions stunts healthy development of appropriate sadness or crying in adulthood.
Emotional distress that has been repossessed for a long time can contribute to depression and anxiety, which may result in emotional blunting or numbing.
People who are clinically depressed often have a disruption or dysfunction of the limbic system and other areas that control emotions such as the amygdala which could be part of the reason why you might be finding it hard to experience emotions and cry.
People who are diagnosed with depression are also more likely to deal with anxiety and may not want others to see them cry, so they may repress it for fear of being judged.
Perfectionistic or codependent people who may experience both anxiety and depression may suppress tears as well to appear to be in control of their emotions.
If your depression is related to trauma such as loss, abuse, or sudden disasters; the severity and intensity can be so strong or persistent that the body and mind are in a state of shock, so it may be difficult to cry.
Trauma survivors often experience detachment and they become estranged from others and dissociated or depersonalized from themselves when there are no interventions done to help.
Underlying medical conditions
Mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression related symptoms like anhedonia can sometimes make it hard or impossible to cry.
People who have a flat affect that comes with anhedonia are able to have internal emotion as healthy people do—they just have trouble expressing themselves through crying, laughing, etc.
In terms of physical disorders, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye syndrome, or other genetic medical conditions are also known to inhibit tear production.
How to achieve emotional release
Here are some of the things you can do to achieve emotional release:
Talk to your doctor
If you think that your reasons for not being able to cry is because of a physical or mental health condition, you may want to start by talking to your primary care provider or mental health professional.
If you suspect it could be because of your medication to treat depression, letting your doctor or therapist know what is happening could be another step to consider.
Explore your reactions
Generally speaking, sitting with unpleasant feelings doesn’t feel great, but it’s still an important thing to do because denying them disconnects you from your own experiences and hinders natural ways to express your emotions, like crying.
If you think you have been suppressing or avoiding intense feelings, you might have to start with noticing how you reach to intense emotional situations,
You might notice that you have been shrugging them off or you have been pushing you emotions aside or even using humor to deal with them.
Taking a moment to reflect on how you deal with these emotionally intense situations without judgement can be a good start.
If you notice that you have been shutting yourself down emotionally, don’t beat yourself up for it but simply acknowledge that it’s your way of doing things and that there are better ways.
Get more comfortable with your emotions
It’s hard to deal with your emotions when you feel afraid of them or confused by them since this generally leads you to block them off instead.
To practice acknowledging and accepting your emotions, begin by doing a few things:
- Name your emotions by saying it out loud.Even if it’s just to yourself, you can say “I feel angry,” “I feel sad,” or “I feel hurt.”
- Keeping a journal to write about what you feel and the thoughts that come with these emotions can help you connect with emotions in the moment, but it also allows you to practice describing them to yourself before you share them with others.
- Find a safe space to let your feelings out even if it through other means like working out, painting, playing an instrument. It can be somewhere you feel safe like your bedroom or reading room.
Talk to people you trust
Once you get more comfortable with your emotions and not longer see them as a threat, you can try sharing these feelings with loved ones. You might, for example, open up to your partner or best friend before anyone else.
Talking to others about how you feel can help normalize your emotions, and chances are that they can offer some validation around those feelings
When it feels easier to talk about feelings, you might notice it becomes easier to express them in other ways, too — including crying.
In this article, we have discussed some of the reasons why you might find it hard to cry when you are depressed. We have also discussed some of the things you can do to deal with this emotional block.
Frequently Asked Questions Related To “I have depression but I can’t cry”
What does it mean when you can’t cry?
If you can’t cry at all, it might mean that you might have a hard time working through your own emotions, and you could also find it tough to connect with others.
It could also be because of mental and physical health reasons which you need to get checked by your physician to treat.
How do you get yourself to cry when you can’t?
One way to make yourself cry or express yourself emotionally is to reflect on past experiences in which you were memorably sad: breakups, deaths of loved ones, or times you felt betrayed or hurt by someone close to you.
You can also take a moment to face your own fears and emotions of anxiety and stress instead of brushing them aside.
How come I don’t cry when someone dies?
Not crying when someone dies is more common that you might think. When a loved one dies suddenly, the suddenness and the shock might make it difficult for you to express emotions.
If they have passed due to a long illness, you might have anticipatory grief which might numb your emotions.
Why do I feel like I have no emotions?
Acute levels of elevated stress like in the case of trauma can trigger feelings of emotional numbness.
Depression and anxiety can also be part of the reason why you are unable to experience emotions as well as some medications.
Why am I an emotionless person?
Being unable to feel, experience, and express emotions can be a symptom of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic disorder so it’s not something to disregard.
In these cases, seeking the help of a professional is crucial.