Tearfulness is crying that is difficult to stop, or at unexpected times. It can be a sign of depression , but is also a common experience during the menstrual cycle, or pregnancy .
Whilst crying is not a necessarily a ‘symptom’ or negative experience, it can be distressing if you feel unable to control it- especially in cultures where (adult) crying is erroneously associated with being ‘less competent’ . Sometimes your eyes will tear up just because you are full of joy, or have been moved by something beautiful- Lucky you! Cherish these moments. It is not a sign of weakness, merely that you are a fully functioning human being…
Many people notice that their emotional responses will vary, depending on multiple factors; such as hunger (known as being ‘hangry‘), tiredness, mental/ physical health, joyful experiences, being in love, or stress levels. Hormonal changes can effect all of these factors, making it more likely that you’ll become tearful (especially just before menstruation, or during pregnancy).
Managing hormone-related tearfulness:
Try a hormone-balancing diet– As outlined in this blog, a vegetable-based ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet can significantly improve all hormone-related symptoms. We highlight a few of the key steps that are especially relevant for those suffering from tearfulness, below;
- Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Eat lots of fibre (and drink plenty of water, too)
- Eat oily foods (mainly unsaturated fats)
- Reduce meat and dairy products
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid alcohol– It has been shown to make low mood/ depression/ tearfulness worse .
- Take nutritional supplements- various mineral deficiencies are associated with low mood/ tearfulness, especially; Co- enzyme Q10 ; omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish and some seed oils)[6-7]; Magnesium [8-9]; and B-vitamins . Research also shows that Vitex Agnus Castus (200-500 mg of extract daily)  can be beneficial for hormone-related low mood/ tearfulness.
Note: Vitex Agnus Castus is not suitable for those who are under 18; using hormonal medication (or devices); are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breast-feeding; or have a pituitary problem.
Exercise regularly– Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, may help you combat stress and release tension. It also encourages your brain to release serotonin, which can improve your mood .
Research has shown that regular exercise, (more specifically cardio-respiratory fitness), and a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index), significantly reduces the risk of menstrual cycle-related health issues, including low mood .
Boost self-esteem- Low self-esteem has been found to increase the risk of developing depression, so it’s worth making sure that your self-esteem is OK, and if not, to do something about it .
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for depression, and building self-esteem, and is available on the NHS. Research shows that the benefits of CBT may last longer than those of medication, although no single treatment is best for everyone. CBT helps you to understand how your problems, thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect each other. It can also help you to question your negative and anxious thoughts, to improve the way you see yourself, and reduce damaging internal thought processes. CBT usually involves meeting with a specially trained and accredited therapist for a one-hour session every week for 10-12 weeks .
Note: The Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre produces highly effective (and cheap!) booklets on managing the symptoms of low self-esteem and depression through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches; e.g. ‘Building self-esteem‘ and ‘Managing depression‘.
Reduce stress hormones- Research shows that Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MCBT) is highly effective in reducing menstrual cycle-related low mood, anxiety, and other symptoms . Mindfulness works by focusing your awareness on the present moment and by acknowledging and accepting certain feelings. Being mindful can teach you how to overcome negative thoughts – for example, being able to challenge hopeless feelings.
This practice has been found to reduce ‘stress reactivity’, stopping the vicious cycle of low mood and anxiety constantly triggering the ‘fight or flight’ HPA (Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal) stress response- leading to tearfulness and anxiety/ low mood .
If you have tried the suggested tips and tricks for at least 3 months, and your symptoms do not improve, please consult your doctor.
If you have any suggestions, or tips, for managing tearfulness- please let us know– we can share them with others!
- NHS information on PMS (including tearfulness); http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Premenstrual-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Page last reviewed and updated: June 2018
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