Crying is a natural reaction to stressors, pain, and sadness, but sometimes people cannot cry. This may be due to medical or mental health reasons.

Medical conditions can dry out a person’s eyes, as can certain medications and dry climates. Others may suppress their emotions or feel nothing due to depression.

This article reviews reasons a person may not be able to cry, possible solutions, and when to seek professional help.

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Several medical conditions can make crying difficult or impossible.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), also known as dry eyes, is one of the most common reasons a person needs to visit an eye doctor. In severe cases, it can make it so a person cannot cry.

Other symptoms can include feeling like something is stuck in the eye, dryness, and a burning sensation in the eye.

Learn more about dry eye.

Sjögren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack parts of the body that produce moisture, such as the mouth and eyes.

It can cause stinging and burning in the eyes as well as dry eyes.

Learn more about Sjögren’s syndrome.


Certain medications can cause eyes to become dry and make producing tears more difficult.

An older study from 2013 found that the use of oral contraceptives and contact lens use increased the severity of dry eye symptoms.

Depression medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can cause or exacerbate dry eye.

Evidence suggests antihistamines can significantly reduce tear production in the left eye and moderately reduce tear production when averaged across both eyes.

In addition to medical reasons, several other factors can decrease tear production or make it difficult for a person to cry.

Environmental factors

People who live in a dry climate may notice it is difficult to produce tears. It can also occur due to extensive smoke from wildfires or other sources of pollution.

Repressed emotions

Repressed emotions can involve creating masks to hide inner emotions. It can also involve the voluntary or involuntary exertion of control over emotions, which leads to altering how and when a person feels emotions.

Repressing emotions can help a person deal with a variety of situations, but it can also lead to several cognitive and emotional health issues.

Altering when and how a person feels emotions may make it difficult for them to cry or produce tears as a response to sadness.


Anhedonia describes a loss of interest in activities. It often occurs as a symptom of depression.

When it occurs, some older evidence suggests it can cause a person to lose the ability to cry. It may also stand as a potential marker of depression with anhedonia.

Depression with melancholia

Melancholia depression is a type of severe major depressive disorder (MDD). People who live with this type of depression condition may experience:

  • hopeless or bleak outlook
  • being flat or emotionless
  • a sensation of moving and acting slowly
  • loss of interest in the world around them
  • thoughts of suicide

The changes in how a person feels or experiences emotions may make it more difficult for them to cry or feel emotions.

Personal beliefs

Strong beliefs about crying being unmasculine or a sign of weakness may provide motivation for the person to actively prevent themselves from crying.

In some cases, peers or family members may shame a person for crying. Cultural and social pressure may also influence a person’s beliefs about crying.

There are several potential reasons crying is an important aspect of human behavior.

According to a 2014 study, some potential benefits of crying include:

  • stress reduction
  • mood enhancement
  • relief
  • promotes empathy from others

Read more about the benefits of crying.

People who find it difficult to cry may be able to take steps to help themselves produce tears and connect with their emotions.

Explore emotions

A person may purposefully block out emotional responses to stimuli. Over time, this can lead them to stop acknowledging or feeling emotions when presented with sad or overwhelming situations.

A person may find that taking time to explore how they feel when something happens may help them reconnect with emotions they have suppressed.

Become comfortable with emotions

Becoming comfortable with emotions can be an important first step for people who actively suppress their emotions or believe that crying is a sign of weakness.

In order to feel comfortable with their emotions, a person can:

  • write down how they feel
  • acknowledge that it is natural to feel a certain way
  • express how they feel out loud
  • talk with a friend about how they feel

Find a safe place

Not everyone likes to express their emotions publicly or feel comfortable doing so. In these cases, a person should find a place where they feel safe to let their emotions out.

Safe spaces may include:

  • a bedroom
  • private bathroom
  • a quiet area in a park or in nature

Talk with someone

Talking with someone does not have to involve formal therapy. Sometimes a person only needs a trusted friend or family member to let their emotions out.

Friends or family can help provide feedback and help a person feel more secure in how they feel. This may make them feel better about expressing emotions over time.

If other steps do not work or are not enough, a person may find that therapy can help them express their emotions and learn to cry.

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can provide a person with a way to work through their emotions and other mental health issues. It may be done in an individual or group setting with a licensed mental health professional.

Learn more about psychotherapy.

Crying can help a person feel better, but sometimes a person cannot produce tears due to a variety of reasons. They can include medical issues such as dry eye, or environmental and social challenges such as dry climate, or suppressing emotions.

A person can use several techniques to help them reconnect with their emotions and potentially cry again. They may also find that psychotherapy with a mental health professional can help them explore their emotions further.