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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My question is about a type of uncontrollable crying, no doubt

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My question is about a type of uncontrollable crying, no doubt related to PTSD. However, because she functions well in an environment where everything else is actually good (kids, healthy and enjoyable long-time boyfriend with good sex, a job she loves she continues to categorize her crying jags as the exception rather than the rule.

All of this is post a 30-year horrible marriage with profound emotional abuse from a narcissist of major proportions. Her subservience of him began when he was in the Army and they were stationed in Germany. He would come home and she would undress him... She acknowledges that with her crying she recalls past trauma and humiliation, but invalidates them because everything else is so good (and, in fact the structure of it is: she's a fabulous person, managed to raise two great girls (who recognize their dad for what he is), and attracted this wonderful man who is a compassionate companion).

I've known her since we were 6, and she knows that I have had my own major depressive experiences (both genetic pre-disposition and situational). While she has been seeing a therapist for counselling as well as a psychiatrist for meds (I don't yet know what she's on), whatever it is isn't working on the crying and other deep feelings. She says that she can be working away, or in a group of people and suddenly start to cry and can cry for hours without being able to say why. I need a way to counsel her to seek different medical and therapeutic support, but can't easily find an article that might tell her more about what she's experiencing. I also need language to help her as she seeks new support. In my language she needs to "audition" new people, but clearly she needs a psychiatrist who is unwilling to take her word for how she's doing ("everything's good, except I cry.") and who has expertise in cocktails of anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds rather than some pre-set script that's maintained despite no change in symptoms.

Also, she's stopped her therapy (despite the continued crying and other symptoms) because she sees it as a form of tolerable maintenance rather than failed treatment.

Help? Many thanks.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like your friend is depressed and has PTSD, as you said. The trauma she suffered is not yet resolved and can take a number of years to work through. Abuse goes to the very core of a person, making them believe they are worthless among other things. Crying is your friend's way of expressing the emotions that are still there.


Crying can be good. It is a way of letting out those feelings that otherwise sit inside and hurt us further. If your friend did not cry, she would either express her feelings in other ways such as anger or she would withdrawal.


Your concern for your friend is valid. She should address her feelings and come to terms with what happened to her. But everyone works through things at their own pace. And PTSD recovery is slow because the trauma is so deep and hurtful.


Consider that her current therapist may not have been a good match for her. Searching for a good therapist is much like looking for a doctor you can work with. Sometimes you need to see a few before you find one you can work with. Before she gives up on therapy, your friend should attempt to see another therapist.


While you cannot convince someone to seek therapy who does not want to, you can encourage your friend by being open and honest about the behaviors you see her exhibit that concern you. Telling her that crying all of the time is not typical behavior. And encourage her by telling her another therapist may be more helpful to her than her previous one.


Also, offer to go with her to see her new therapist. Even if it is just one time, you can have the opportunity to express your concerns. If that is something she rejects, you can always contact the therapist before her appointment and tell them your concerns. They cannot respond back (confidentiality), but at least they will be aware of your perspective.


The best way to find a new therapist is to ask for referrals. Have her talk to her doctor about who he/she recommends. Also, she can ask friends or family. She can also search on line and get a better idea of what the therapist is like before she makes an appointment. Here is a link:


Offer to help your friend through self help. There are numerous resources she can use to help herself work towards recovery. Here are a few to get her started:


The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth by Glenn R. Schiraldi


The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms by Mary Beth Williams and Soili Poijula


She can find these books on or her local library may have them for her.


I hope this has helped you,

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