Breaking Down Mental Health Terms: What Are Crying Spells?

Language is one of the most important aspects of mental wellness, and how we talk about mental health can go a long way toward shrinking the mental health stigma. This recurring feature on the blog will tackle different words and phrases that I use when talking about my mental health. I know that other people use this language as well, and defining some of the more relatable terms can help others understand what it means, instead of having to explain it constantly. Today, I’ll be talking about the phrase crying spell.

What is a Crying Spell?

First, it should be noted that crying is a common thing. People cry for many reasons, and it’s a healthy way to let out positive and negative emotions. Crying is not the same as experiencing crying spells. Though it isn’t a specific medical term, Healthline put it succinctly that:

Sometimes you might find yourself crying a lot more often than you’d like to or without an apparent cause.


There are spectrums of how often and how little people cry, and crying spells refer to situations when you’re crying more often than usual for seemingly no reason. A common symptom of depression, crying spells can also happen when people experience anxiety and stress, when they experience exhaustion or pregnancy, or when experiencing bipolar disorder.

A key thing to remember about crying spells is that their frequency is only relevant to the person experiencing them. There’s nothing wrong with crying more than the average person, but when you catch yourself crying much more than you usually do, that might be a sign to have a self check-in. People often don’t acknowledge their stress or anxiety until the dam is about to burst, and crying spells can be a clear sign that some emotions need to be let out.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Now that we know what crying spells are, how can we combat them? First, it’s important to understand that not everyone is comfortable with this type of emotional output. Whether you’re the one crying or someone is looking to lean on you, crying can make people uncomfortable. Just like you wouldn’t treat every person who experiences mental illness the same, you can’t treat everyone who is experiencing crying spells the same.

There are a lot of obstacles that can get in the way of asking for help when you’re experiencing crying spells. Embarrassment, confusion, avoidance and shame are all common reactions in this situation. I’ve experienced crying spells, on and off, for almost ten years, and I still tense up when I tell someone about that for the first time. But there can be so much comfort on the other side of that hill, because as painful as it can be to tell someone, you can find support or help on the other side of that.

Crying spells might come and go, occurring for all kinds of reasons, and that can be scary. But the more we talk about these ideas and break them down, the easier it is for the next person to manage this challenge or overcome this obstacle on their own mental health journey.

Now to the comments! What did you know about crying spells before reading this post? Is there anything you want to add to what I’ve said, or advice for people experiencing crying spells themselves? Let me know in the comments!


7 thoughts on “Breaking Down Mental Health Terms: What Are Crying Spells?

  1. Mentally Ill In America August 17, 2021 / 4:59 pm

    I have quite a difficult time crying. I just can’t get the emotions out. I wish I could! A good cry is what many ppl need (myself included).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan @ MBNB August 19, 2021 / 9:48 am

      I had a difficult time for a while, but now I think I overcorrected and my emotions are out far too much of the time (I cry at the drop of a hat these days). I hope we can find other ways to let emotion out in a healthy way!

      Liked by 1 person

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