Its true of just about everyone – when we’re sad, we cry. According to the researchers from Tilburg University, women cry an average of 3.5 times every single month while men cry 1.9 times. Although it’s often wrongly assumed that crying shows a sign of weakness, it’s an important reaction that is perceived as healthy and helpful. According to scientific research, crying has many positive benefits on the body and mind and this article explores exactly why you should let yourself cry when times get hard.
The Science Behind Crying
For hundreds of years, people assumed that tears were a product of the heart, rather than the eye itself. Others assumed that the waterworks’ biggest trigger was the mind. The proper definition of crying wasn’t revealed until 1662 when a Danish scientist, Niels Stensen, discovered the connection between tears and the lacrimal gland. The gland is located above the lateral end of each eye and has a primary function of lubricating and moistening the eye’s surface. Stensen stated that tears’ purpose was nothing more than to moisten the eye.
Scientists continue to study the primary reason why some humans cry, as well as why some don’t. In 1985, biochemist, William Frey, stated that the purpose of crying is to remove toxic substances during stressful times. However, many have moved on from studying practical reasons behind crying and became more interested in its psychological benefits. Among many others, a popular scientific theory claims that crying triggers human connection and helps us acknowledge our vulnerability. Scientists are still researching why it’s so easy to cry for some, and harder for others. But if you do want to cry, don’t hold it back – there’s proof that crying helps people in many ways.
Crying Has Unexpected Benefits
The phrase “to have a good cry” definitely has a deeper meaning. Many times humans report feeling better after letting themselves cry. In addition, through crying, we are able to calm down, express our emotions, and soothe our pain, whether it’s physical or psychological. Additionally, crying releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids, commonly referred to as “feel-good chemicals” or endorphins. These are essential to our overall well-being and stress management.
A study published in 2009 supports the previously-mentioned theory that crying releases toxins by documenting a release of a number of stress hormones. It has also been noted that as crying moistens the eye through a fluid called lysozyme, it also cleans any bacteria found on its surface. A 2011 study further confirmed that lysozyme holds many antibacterial properties that benefit the eye and take care of its health.
Is All Crying Healthy?
It’s important to know that crying in moderation may have many benefits. However, excessive crying could be a sign of depression and lead to other serious problems. If your crying is accompanied by long-term feelings of sadness, irritability, lack of energy, or motivation, you should immediately consult your doctor to start solving the issue.
Other symptoms of depression include uncontrollable crying which affects your daily activities, along with persistent anxiety, feeling hopeless, having trouble sleeping, and having thoughts of self-harm. While having a “good cry” may help release some of your stress in that case, it’s important to tackle those symptoms and find out a deeper reason behind your sadness. Alongside this, the inability to cry is sometimes associated with melancholic depression. While scientists continue to research why some people don’t shed tears, feeling empty and numb are red flag symptoms that should be immediately addressed with your doctor or caretaker.
Do you cry easily? Test yourself with one of the most heartwarming stories ever told!
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