Emotions are normal, but sometimes after an outburst or a crying session, you may be wondering why you’re feeling so emotional.

Feeling heightened emotions or like you’re unable to control your emotions can come down to diet choices, genetics, or stress. It can also be due to an underlying health condition, such as depression or hormones.

1. You’re human

You may be feeling emotional today. But guess what? You’re allowed to be.

We all feel happy, sad, low, or exhilarated. Emotions are a normal part of who we are as humans. Everyone processes events and emotions differently.

Unless your emotions are interfering with your day-to-day life, you may just feel things a bit more than others. Or, you might just be feeling extra sensitive today.

If someone tells you to be less emotional, they’re probably basing it off of societal standards. Don’t let them put you down. Emotions aren’t weak. They’re human.

2. Genetics

While emotions are normal, being naturally more emotional may actually have a genetic component. Several older studies suggest that emotion is influenced by genetics.

Though there are other factors involved, such as environmental and social influences, human emotions are somewhat inherited.

If a family member has an affective disorder, such as major depression, you may have a higher risk of experiencing one as well.

3. Lack of sleep

Everyone knows what it’s like to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, so it’s not hard to imagine that a lack of sleep can affect your emotional well-being.

Sleep deprivation has several effects on your body, including:

  • trouble thinking and concentrating
  • higher risk for anxiety or depression
  • weakened immune system
  • poor balance and higher risk of accidents

It can affect your mood, too, especially the longer sleep deprivation occurs.

Studies have shown that sleep may be linked to emotional regulation, so getting less sleep may cause your emotions to seem out of whack.

Feeling more irritable or easier to anger are common when chronically sleep-deprived.

4. You need exercise

We’ve all heard the physical health benefits of exercise, but exercise can also have a big effect on mood and emotions.

While exercise, in general, can promote emotional well-being, a lack of exercise can lower it, according to research.

One 2017 study showed that aerobic exercise had a therapeutic effect on regulating emotions. This finding suggests that if you’re feeling extra emotional, jumping on a treadmill or going for a jog could help alleviate it.

5. Diet

Everything you eat affects your body, and a healthy diet can improve your overall well-being, including your mental health.

If you’re feeling emotional, it may come down to the foods you’re eating.

Research has found that eating a healthy diet means better emotional health, while an unhealthy diet increases levels of distress.

To keep your emotions in check:

  • Make sure you’re consuming a nutrient-dense diet.
  • Avoid processed, fatty, and fast foods.
  • Avoid skipping meals.
  • Make sure you’re not lacking vital vitamins and minerals.
pro tip: mix things up

Not getting enough varied, nutrient-dense foods can mean you’re relying too heavily on one area of the food pyramid. This will likely lead to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies that can affect your mood and health.

6. You’re highly sensitive

Some people truly are more sensitive than others.

A personality trait called sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a quality where someone processes the world more deeply. This includes the moods and feelings of others, as well as pain and loud noises.

Studies suggest that it occurs in almost 20 percent of humans — and even other species! — so it’s certainly not a rare thing.

The next time someone says you’re always so sensitive, remember that it’s totally normal. And it’s not a bad thing either. You may feel positive emotions more deeply than others, too. Think joy, excitement, and happiness.

7. Stress

Stress can take a toll on our bodies. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out, you’re likely going to feel a little emotional.

While stress is normal, and everyone experiences it, chronic stress can have a lasting effect on your mental and physical health.

If you’re feeling especially stressed, your emotions may be running high. You may be likely to cry more easily, or be unsure why you’re crying in the first place.

8. Big life changes

When major life events or big changes occur, you’re inevitably going to feel the stress — no matter how well you plan for it.

Some of the most stressful changes involve:

  • divorce or marriage
  • moving
  • getting a new job or being fired
  • having a baby

It doesn’t have to be a huge, life-altering change, necessarily, to make you feel emotional. Any shake-up is going to have an effect on your emotional well-being, even if it’s only stressing you out under the surface.

It’s important to talk through your concerns and have a support system when you’re experiencing big changes in your life. This will also help those close to you understand that if you snap at them or are more emotional than usual, it’s nothing personal.

Don’t worry, once the big change is over, your emotions should return to baseline.

9. Grief

Grief is a varied, complicated, and messy thing. Grieving the loss of someone is one of the hardest things that we all universally go through. So if you’re not feeling yourself, or your emotions don’t feel the same, that’s normal.

Grief doesn’t have to just be about losing a loved one. You can grieve for your past self, a child you never had, or even a breakup.

We all handle loss differently and go through the stages of grief at different times, and we may not come out on the other side the same.

10. Trauma

Trauma is a response to experiencing a terrible event that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm.

It brings about strong, negative emotions including fear, shame, guilt, anger, and sadness, both during and after the experience.

In one 2008 study, researchers found that the type of traumatic event, such as a car accident, sexual violence, injury, or physical assault, could change which emotions were especially heightened.

You may experience:

  • flashbacks or intrusive memories that bring out unpredictable emotions
  • inability to express your feelings
  • apathy or indifference
  • irritability
  • outbursts of anger

If the trauma begins to severely affect your day-to-day life, you may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

11. Hormones

Hormones have both physical and psychological effects on the body. Any hormonal imbalance or extra sensitivity to hormonal changes can cause a change in your emotions.

Below are some potential causes of an imbalance or extra sensitivity to hormonal changes:

  • Thyroid issues. An imbalance of your thyroid hormones can affect your emotions, raising your risk of developing anxiety and depression.
  • Menopause. Menopause occurs when you stop menstruating and can no longer become pregnant. Mood swings are a common symptom of menopause as hormones fluctuate, and there’s a higher risk for developing depression or anxiety.
  • PMS. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a number of emotional and physical symptoms. Female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can influence emotions as they fluctuate throughout the month before and during your menstrual cycle. Estrogen, for instance, can affect the intensity of emotions. Around 75 percent of menstruating women report premenstrual mood changes.
  • PMDD. Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD) is similar to PMS, but it includes more severe symptoms, particularly emotional ones. Some potential symptoms include excessive crying, anger, irritability, and sadness.
  • PCOS. People with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) produce higher levels of male hormones, disrupting normal hormone levels. Research has shown that people with PCOS have higher levels of distress than those without the condition.
  • Stress. Certain stress hormones, such as oxytocin or cortisol, can affect mood, like increasing anger or emotional sensitivity.
  • Birth control. There’s some evidence that using hormonal contraceptives can affect your emotions. Depression, anxiety, and anger were all found to be higher in people taking hormonal birth control.

Imbalances in the adrenal gland or your insulin levels may also affect your emotions and mood.

12. Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide.

People with depression typically experience higher levels of negative emotions, lower levels of positive emotions, and may have trouble regulating their moods.

While most people think of sadness when they think of depression, other emotional symptoms include feeling empty, hopeless, or anxious. You may also experience anger or irritability.

If you’re feeling emotional and believe that depression is the cause, it’s important to seek help. There are numerous treatments that can help you manage your symptoms and feel a little more in control of your emotions.

13. Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point. When you’re anxious, your emotions may be heightened, especially those involving fear, apprehension, and irritability.

When anxiety begins to interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

When you’re anxious, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Staying in this state for a long time can increase tension, irritability, physical symptoms, and your ability to regulate your emotions.

A 2005 study reported that people with generalized anxiety disorder experienced more intense emotions.

14. ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition typically characterized by hyperactive and impulsive behaviors.

While difficulty focusing and trouble sitting still are the most well-known symptoms of ADHD, the disorder can also magnify your emotions.

People with ADHD can often feel frustrated due to their distractibility, which can lead to heightened emotions. This frustration can lead to irritability, anger, or anxiety.

15. Personality disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the guide published by the American Psychiatric Association, is used by healthcare providers for the diagnosis of mental health conditions.

The DSM-5 defines personality disorders as “enduring patterns of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and flexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.”

Emotional dysregulation, an inability to regulate your emotions, is a common trait of many personality disorders.

If you have a personality disorder, you may feel more emotional than others. Some additional symptoms include:

  • difficulty controlling anger, or getting angry without understanding why
  • frequent mood swings
  • inappropriate emotional responses
  • hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection

Some of the more common personality disorders include obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

If you feel like your emotions are out of your control, or you believe it’s caused by an underlying health issue, see your healthcare provider. They can help you get to the root of the issue or refer you to a specialist.

If you feel overly emotional and begin contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.