Why can't I cry

Can't cry at internal or external stimuli? Here are some explanations of why you can't cry.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on September 17, 2021.

Last update: September 17, 2021

Few things are as cathartic in this life as crying. It is often associated with sad moments, although you can also cry with joy, laughter, excitement, pain and many other sensations. Some people, however, cannot trigger this reaction. If you are one of them, we will tell you why you cannot cry.

The absence of crying can be related to coldness, thoughtlessness, and even the absence of feelings. As we'll see in a moment, there are many reasons why you can't cry. These are divided into physical and psychological. Each one, according to its characteristics, demands a different treatment. Let's analyze all this in detail.

Physical reasons why you can't cry

The first thing that should be ruled out in the absence of crying is a physical explanation. Various diseases or disorders can explain a decrease and even a total suppression of tears. First of all, we must distinguish the types of crying. In general, they are usually classified into 3 types: basal, reflex and emotional.

The first type is the most common of all, since takes care of keeping your eyes moist. You produce tears every day, which also help keep the eye area clean. The second type is a reaction to an external irritant. The smoke and gases that are released when cutting onions are the best examples. Finally, emotional crying occurs in the face of changes in your mood.

The chemical composition, the complementary reactions that accompany crying and their volume vary according to each variant. Why you can't cry must answer each of these criteria.

Sjogren's syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an immune system disorder that affects mucous membranes and glands that produce moisture. Its main characteristic, in this sense, are dry eyes and mouth. Although it can develop in isolation, it often accompanies other problems, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the evidence, this syndrome affects between 0.5% and 1% of the population. It is more common in women than in men, with a higher prevalence after 40 years of age. It is a disorder that, if left untreated, can compromise the function of organs such as the liver, lungs, and kidneys.

There is no cure for the syndrome, although there are a variety of treatments to alleviate your symptoms. Using artificial tears, for example, can prevent dry eyes. There are also surgeries that seal the ducts where tears drain.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca

It is also known as dry eye syndrome. It is a condition in which your glands don't produce enough tears. Or failing that, these are of poor quality. This instability results in dry eyes and an inability to produce normal tears.

Dry eye syndrome is very common throughout the world. According to the researchers, its prevalence ranges around 5%, although it can reach up to 50% in some groups of people. There are many treatment options for keratoconjunctivitis sicca, from the use of artificial tears to tear tampons.

Dry eye syndrome, when extreme, makes it impossible to cry with the right amount of tears.

Medication intake

The intake of medications carries a series of side effects. Some of them can reduce tear secretion, especially when treatment is prolonged.

Some groups of drugs that can partially disrupt the function of the lacrimal glands are the following:

  • Oral contraceptives.
  • Antihistamines or decongestants.
  • Medicines used to treat blood pressure.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

It is also common that, after eye surgery, tear production suffers some alteration. It is recommended to inform the specialist of any side effect that is experienced after starting a treatment based on the mentioned drugs.

Environmental factors

Finally, environmental factors can work against you when it comes to enjoying healthy tear production. If you live in a windy or very dry area, at a high altitude or very close to the coast, or in areas prone to fire, dry air encourages your tears to evaporate more quickly.

Psychological reasons why you can't cry

Apart from the physical explanations, we also find the psychological ones as triggers for the absence of tears. At this point, we refer to emotional tears. That is to say, those that your body produces in the face of mood swings.

There are dozens of psychological explanations for why you can't cry. However, we have chosen 3 that condense the main ones.


Anhedonia is described, in a nutshell, as the inability of a person to experience pleasure. It frequently accompanies some psychological disorders, such as depression or schizophrenia, although it can also develop in isolation.

Its triggers are unclear, although the evidence points to neurobiological mechanisms. This absence of pleasure has physical repercussions, among other things, suppressing your ability to cry. In this way, some patients with the condition experience a reduction or absence of tears in the face of sad, painful or funny situations.

His treatment varies according to the criteria of the specialist, as well as associated disorders. Based on this, antipsychotics or antidepressants may be prescribed to try to lessen the severity of symptoms. The important thing, in any case, is that you should know that the condition can be treated.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 5% of the adult population suffers from depression. It is a very common disease throughout the world. The emotional disorder manifests itself differently in each patient, so that the symptoms of each case may differ.

Some pictures of depression can be characterized by a suppression of emotions. Patients cannot react to sad or happy events in the same way as a person without the disorder. The inability to cry accompanies many of these episodes.

Today there are countless treatments for depression. Some are pharmacologically based, others with minor lifestyle changes. Therapy, in the same way, is an indisputable ally to keep relapses under control. If you suspect that you have this condition, do not hesitate to consult a qualified specialist.

Although depression is associated with crying in popular culture, a patient may not be able to cry when experiencing crying.

Repression of emotions

Finally, we find emotional repressions as an explanation for why you cannot cry. In this case, there is no physical trigger that prevents tears from being releasedRather, the emotional charge plays against the moment this process develops. It can occur in men and women alike and at all ages.

The repression of emotions can be triggered by various causes: prejudices about crying, cultural stigma or trauma from childhood or adolescence are some of the most frequent. Although the first repressive actions are carried out voluntarily, over time they become automatic.

You can't cry, but there is a solution

In summary, the one that you cannot cry has a physical and psychological explanation. In some cases, both can coexist at the same time, so the consequences and symptoms are greater. For all there is a treatment that helps reduce complications, so you should go to an expert as appropriate.