Is Crying Healthy? 5 Amazing Facts to Know

Crying is something we have all experienced in our lives since the day we are born till today. However much you must say “Nah, I don’t cry” we know it isn’t true. But is crying healthy?

Is Crying Healthy?

There’s something so humane about crying that every human has felt it at some point. Although often taken as a sign of weakness1 and associated with negatives, crying can also be beneficial for a couple of reasons, according to studies and personal experiences.

If you want to know if is crying healthy, this article breaks down the types and the formation of tears and then explores certain benefits of crying2, drawing a boundary for the same and the gender inequality in this aspect.

1. What Causes Tears?

Is crying healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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Unknown to many, there are some types of tears. That means it’s not crying when cutting an onion, but what causes them? And is crying healthy?

Hence, there are three main types of tears 3that human eyes produce, and they have their causes and functions.

1.1 Continuous or Basal Tears-

Basal tears are always present in your eyes as tear ducts secrete them, and that’s why they’re also known as continuous tears. These baseline tears protect your cornea4.

They’re made of water, oil, and mucus and are protein-rich. Their main function is to protect the eyes by lubricating and hence fight infection.

1.2 Reflex Tears-

Relex tears occur when irritants in your eyes are caused by smoke, dust, onions or wind. These tears are produced to protect your eyes and remove the debris caused by harmful irritants.

The above two tears have mostly water and antibodies to protect your eyes5, it is usually emotional tears that people often mean when talking about crying.

1.3 Emotional Tears-

These tears contain stress hormones of higher levels than other types. Emotional tears are associated with emotional pain or stress, joy so on.

It’s also known to flush out toxins from your eyes so that a good cry can benefit you.

2. How are Tears Produced?

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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Lacrimal glands6 produce all the tears mentioned above and are present above each eye.

Basal tears are produced every time you blink, and they spread throughout your eye. It protects them and keeps them from drying. But is crying healthy?

It doesn’t fall like other tears because it gets drained in the puncta 7i.e. tiny holes present in the corners of the upper and lower eyelids. It then drains to the nasolacrimal ducts8, as the word implies, in the nose.

Unlike basal tears, reflex and emotional tears flow from your eyes because the natural drainage system i.e. the puncta, cannot handle the amount of those tears as it’s as small as a grain of rice.

3. How Exactly is Crying Healthy?

3.1 Crying can Lift your Mood

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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Endorphins and oxytocin are often known as ‘feel-good’ chemicals since their release from tears helps improve mood. When crying, you might notice yourself taking quick short breaths, which is cold. Breathing cool air helps with the low temperature of the brain.

Emotional tears release stress hormones and the mineral manganese, which is related to anxiety, nervousness and irritation, helps with relaxing, physically and mentally.

3.2 Bonding Effects

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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Crying is an attachment behaviour, but is crying healthy? Humans cry since birth as we want or need our caretakers’ attention. Bonding over crying is one of the underrated benefits of crying.

You might be embarrassed to cry in front of anyone, but it does wonders in building healthy relationships, i.e. interpersonal benefits. People feel empathy for you and understand your needs to help you in future. This strengthens the connection with that person(s) and more supportive.

Crying is also a way to ask for help for your unexplained aches. You might start crying if unable to put your emotions in words and the person(s) around you try to calm you down, as research concludes.

It is also a coping method to express yourself if you have mental illnesses like depression.

3.3 Helps with Stress

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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An old study found that shedding tears helps to flush stress hormones that are present in your tears. When crying, your body gets rid of them and helps you become stress-free.

Crying is also a response to ease the pain, which requires a lot of energy. Crying takes a lot of physical pressure so after crying for quite some time, you might feel tired, which helps your body rest and sleep deeply.

3.4 Helps to Relieve Pain and Self-Soothe

Rather than a weakness, crying shows the strength of dealing with emotions and being vulnerable and human. Crying activates your PNS or Parasympathetic nervous system, which dulls pain and is helpful for self-soothing.

Crying releases endorphins or endogenous opioids and oxytocin9. If you are going through anything difficult, crying can make you feel numb as these chemicals are moving out, but it has a relaxing effect later with slow and deep breathing and a slow heart rate which is high when crying.

3.5 Helps to Process Emotions and Balance Them

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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If you’re in an intense emotional phase and are repressing your emotions, it can be harmful to your health. With crying, you get to feel your emotions, not run from the and face the situation with a better perspective after crying.

Crying can get you out of your anger or denial of trauma and then peacefully, you can address the issue and deal with it better. Hence, crying helps with putting things that are bothering you in perspective.

4. Is Crying Healthy Always or There’s a Boundary?

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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There’s no rule as to how much crying is healthy. It depends on personal tolerance and crying levels. There are illnesses where a person cries too much, such as blepharitis10, and situations where tears happen rarely, like during hormonal changes or medicines for cancer.

For a normal person with no such underlying issue, if you observe that you’re crying too often and it is becoming a hindrance to your productivity and daily life, then you should immediately seek help from your doctor or any mental health professional.

Some symptoms of depression to help you recognize the issue behind crying often:

1. You’re crying often, without any reason, and it is uncontrollable most of the time.

2. You have trouble concentrating, decision-making and remembering.

3. You feel lazy, pessimistic or hopeless and have trouble falling asleep.

5. Gender Gap

Is Crying Healthy? 5 Facts about Crying.
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Usually, people associate crying with weakness, but given the stats of crying, women are comparatively better at expressing their emotions than men, which is also a result of patriarchy as women are allowed (or rather demanded to be weak).

In contrast, men are supposed to always “have it together,” i.e. have no emotions. So, men crying is socially unacceptable and also a reason why this gender has emotional issues and also higher rates of mental illnesses and suicide rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is crying good for mental health?

Many people equate crying with being unhappy which makes people feel worse, yet crying can assist boost your mood by releasing stress hormones.

2. What are the benefits of crying?

Crying can reduce blood pressure and pulse rate. Also, it gives you a better perspective to look at your problems and solve them later on.

3. Is crying good or bad for health?

Moderate crying is good for health. If you’re experiencing an urge to cry, refrain from holding tears back. Tears are a natural and healthy way of expressing emotion.

EndNote

Hence, to answer your question – Is crying healthy? Yes, it is. It helps with releasing chemicals, dealing with emotions, and strengthening bonds with others, and it is a sign of human behaviour.

But you should also connect and seek professional help in case of any issue, mental or physical.

You should feel comfortable crying and make it comfortable for people to cry with or in front of you as it is just an emotion like every other.

  1. Otto, Dianne. “A Sign of Weakness-Disrupting Gender Certainties in the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325.” Mich. J. Gender & L. 13 (2006): 113. ↩︎
  2. Miceli, Maria, and Cristiano Castelfranchi. “Crying: Discussing its basic reasons and uses.” New ideas in Psychology 21.3 (2003): 247-273. ↩︎
  3. Atzei, A., R. Luchetti, and L. Garagnani. “Classification of ulnar triangular fibrocartilage complex tears. A treatment algorithm for Palmer type IB tears.” Journal of Hand Surgery (European Volume) 42.4 (2017): 405-414. ↩︎
  4. Podskochy, Alexander. “Protective role of corneal epithelium against ultraviolet radiation damage.” Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavica 82.6 (2004): 714-717. ↩︎
  5. Schilling, Ray. “Eat Your Veggies To Protect Your Eyes.” (2008). ↩︎
  6. Botelho, Stella Y. “Tears and the lacrimal gland.” Scientific American 211.4 (1964): 78-87. ↩︎
  7. Proikas-Cezanne, Tassula, et al. “Human WIPI-1 puncta-formation: a novel assay to assess mammalian autophagy.” FEBS letters 581.18 (2007): 3396-3404. ↩︎
  8. Cassady, J. V. “Developmental anatomy of nasolacrimal duct.” AMA Archives of Ophthalmology 47.2 (1952): 141-158. ↩︎
  9. Bicknell, R. John, Christopher Chapman, and Gareth Leng. “Effects of opioid agonists and antagonists on oxytocin and vasopressin release in vitro.” Neuroendocrinology 41.2 (1985): 142-148. ↩︎
  10. Lindsley, Kristina, et al. “Interventions for chronic blepharitis.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 5 (2012). ↩︎

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