Sudden displays of sadness and emotion could mean many things, such as hormone imbalances, delayed processing of grief, and even depression. While crying in itself is perfectly healthy and normal, doing so with no idea why could point to an issue in your mental health.
We all have certain triggers or things that can make us feel sad and make us cry. It could be a certain movie, a song, or even a memory.
Everyone cries, sometimes at home alone and sometimes in public, despite trying their best to hold back the tears.
Feeling sad is also a part of life. But what does it mean if you were having a perfectly good day and suddenly feel sad, to the point of crying?
Does there have to be a reason for us to cry? Is it normal to suddenly feel sad? Could it be pointing to some aspects of your life that you should reevaluate?
Does this mean that you might have depression?
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Why would I feel sadness unexpectedly?
Most of us are familiar with the feeling of sadness. It’s not something you want to feel. It usually brings back bad memories of past failures, disappointments, and losses.
While sadness is a temporary feeling, its intensity can vary with time. At its more intense moment, you might feel tears welling into your eyes, and before you know it, you’re crying.
If the sadness is consistent, it could lead you to feel quite low, depressed, and without energy to go about your day.
This consequently leads to a reduced social life, often compromising work and studies. While feeling sad isn’t unusual, it is somewhat unusual to feel so suddenly without knowing why.
4 possible reasons for unexpected sadness
Not surprisingly, depression is one of the biggest mental conditions affecting mankind.
While not everyone who is depressed would feel sadness without knowing why unexplainable sadness and low feelings are a symptom of depression.
If you are depressed, you would most likely feel sad for long periods, almost every day for weeks.
The level of depression could vary from appearing completely fine to friends and family to breaking down into tears at unexpected moments.
Depression is almost always followed by other symptoms such as:
- Anxiety or a lingering feeling of dread
- A pessimistic view of the future
- Being highly irritable and getting frustrated quite easily
- Feelings of hopelessness and guilt over things you often have no control over
- Loss of interest in hobbies and interests
- Constantly tired and sleepy
- Changes in sleep patterns often leading to oversleeping or insomnia
- Inability to focus, concentrate, remember things, or make decisions
- Loss of appetite
Depression can also lead to suicidal feelings, in which case it is always best to reach out to someone you trust, such as a close friend or a family member.
Many local organizations can help with any dark thoughts that might come as a result of feeling depressed
2. Bipolar disorder
People with bipolar disorder can often experience sudden feelings of sadness and depression. However, it could also swing the other way with sudden feelings of euphoria and happiness.
A few of its symptoms are:
- Increased irritability
- Restless behavior and inability to focus
- Sudden changes in mood and attitude
- Lack of a desire to sleep
- Hyper-focused on certain activities and increase in energy
While these episodes can last for as long as a week, the sudden bouts of sadness can appear and disappear.
3. Seasonal affective disorder
If you live in a country where the seasons increase and decrease the amount of sun you get, you might be affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Having moved from a tropical country to a country where the seasons make the days shorter, I’ve noticed that I tend to feel sadder during the winter.
This was for no apparent reason than the fact that the sun did not come out as often as it used to and had set by 4 pm.
The sunnier, warmer days of spring and summer brought about more happy days, while the colder, shorter days in winter brought about the opposite.
The below symptoms are usually associated with SAD:
- Pessimistic thoughts about the weather
- Increased isolation and avoidance of social situations during poor seasonal conditions
- More frequent eating and sleeping patterns
- Reluctance to wake up or get out of bed
4. Reproductive Hormones
Depending on your gender, your hormones may also play a huge part in how you feel, especially if the sudden bouts of sadness appear at a specific time each month.
These could be related to pregnancy, menstruation, and childbirth.
During menopause or perimenopause, you might feel quite stressed and tearful due to the sudden change in hormones within your body.
It might make you lose interest in your daily life and make things challenging for quite some time.
These feelings of sadness can also appear via perinatal depression during pregnancy and even one year after childbirth.
The hormonal changes associated with menstruation can also cause many emotional and physical changes in women.
A study conducted in 2013 demonstrated that up to 75% of women showed premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS). While crying is just one symptom, others include depression, irritability, and sudden mood changes.
In short, yes. You might just be overwhelmed with all that is going on in your life.
Perhaps you’ve been too busy to process your emotions lately, and all the feelings which had been bottled up needed release.
You might be trying to figure out what’s wrong with you as you burst into tears, despite being completely fine a few seconds ago.
But if you’ve been under stress recently, perhaps even without you knowing, this could be your body’s way of releasing some of the tension.
Crying is a good way to release tension, sadness, and other pent-up feelings that have lived in your body. So it might be a good idea to have a look and see if anything has been inducing stress in your life recently.
It could also be plausible that the grief of past unprocessed trauma is surfacing now in your life.
It is possible to experience prolonged grief. This can cause someone to cry suddenly with no warning signs.
What can I do to feel better?
While crying is a perfectly normal thing to do, it might happen at an embarrassing or inconvenient time.
In that case, you could try pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth, relaxing your face, and squeezing the skin between your thumb and forefinger.
Breathing slowly and deeply could also help calm your emotions temporarily.
You should also:
- Speak to your friends/family – Sadly, we often prefer to not let our loved ones know of our troubles. Sometimes it might be because you find it embarrassing, or they might be too busy, or the sadness might make you feel alone. Regardless of the reason, it can be hard to ask for emotional support. But isolating yourself would only make things worse over time, so sharing your thoughts and feelings with a trusted person could go a long way. You could even try a stranger via the internet, although it is advisable to use a reliable platform. While talking won’t make the problem go away, it can make you feel better and less alone.
- Watch some cheerful videos – While this might be the last thing on your mind, humor can be a powerful tool to cope with depression. Sometimes the silliest things can make you smile. Or maybe you could get lost in a good book or movie.
- Music – Despite the tendency to listen to sad music and make yourself feel sadder, the right song could temporarily relieve your sadness. Upbeat music would be quite beneficial if you can resist the temptation to wallow and listen to a sad song.
- Speak to a therapist – Speaking to a professional can be the best decision you’ve made. Professional support is best when you feel sad continuously, and the tears don’t stop. You might notice how the sudden low feelings affect your work and responsibilities.
- Watch what you eat – Certain foods can help with depression, so keep a tab of what you’ve been eating, and make adjustments accordingly to eat better and feel better.
Crying now and then is not a bad thing.
Releasing those pent-up emotions could be good for you. However, if it is happening often and you are still unable to figure out why, it might be time for you to visit a doctor, who might then recommend a therapist.
The doctors may recommend therapy or medication to ensure that you do not feel sudden bouts of sadness but progress to have better mental health.
People do not often cry without knowing why, so please take the time to relax and think about your mental health. Nothing matters more.