Do mood disorders alter crying? A pilot investigation

Depress Anxiety. 2008;25(5):E9-15. doi: 10.1002/da.20331.


Clinical commentators widely interpret crying as a sign of depressed mood. However, there is virtually no empirical data on this topic, and the evidence that mood disorders alter crying is surprisingly weak. This study compared mood disordered patients to a nonpsychiatric reference group on the frequency, antecedents, and consequences of crying behavior using a well-validated questionnaire measure of crying. Forty-four outpatients diagnosed with three forms of mood pathology were age and gender matched to a reference group of 132 participants sampled to be representative of the Dutch population. Both groups completed the Adult Crying Inventory, which provides estimates of the self-reported frequency, antecedents, and consequences of crying behavior. Depression severity and psychiatric symptom severity data were also collected from patients. Compared with the reference group, patients with mood pathology reported increased cry proneness to negative antecedents. By contrast, patients and controls did not differ in reported cry proneness to positive antecedents. Patients reported less mood improvement after crying than did controls. Among male patients, but not female patients, depression severity was associated with increased crying proneness and increased crying frequency. This pilot investigation suggests that mood disorders increase the frequency of negative emotional crying, and may also alter the functions of this behavior. Mood disorders may influence male crying to a greater extent than female crying. Future directions designed to clarify the causal pathways between mood disorders and alterations in crying behavior are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Crying*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Dysthymic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sex Factors