Why We Cry

Do you ever wonder why we cry? You might be surprised to learn your tears serve a critical purpose.

Learn to Cry with Science in Mind

The Crying Space offers practice tools that help you leverage the science of emotional tears to make your next cry a good one. Learn to "get out of the way" and let your body do what it was designed to in times of high stress and strong emotions.

Emotional tears help the body restore wellbeing

Did you know that stress degrades the functioning of our nervous systems? We're talking about the brain, the autonomic regulation of the heart, lungs, organs, and motor functions! Releasing stress hormones through emotional tears activates the parasympathetic nervous system that keeps our body working effectively!

Emotional tears promote balance in real time

Did you know emotional tears contain stress hormones? The endocrine system uses tears to remove waste materials. This has to happen very quickly when the nervous system needs help to regulate. That's why a good cry can result in immediate feelings of relief and renewal, and promote our ability to rest!

Emotional tears eliminate waste from stress hormones

Emotional tears contain proteins and hormones that are not found in basal or reflex tears. We're talking about stuff like adrenocorticotropic hormone (which prompts cortisol production), Leu-enkephalin, prolactin, potassium and manganese. (Did you know that depression often involves high levels of manganese?)

Emotional tears promote communication

Have you ever noticed that emotional tears are more viscous, or "sticky"? Some researchers believe that emotional tears linger to help communicate that we need comfort or care when we are unable to advocate for ourselves. Talk about intelligence!

Emotional tears endure past loss of other body functions

Emotional tears are so vital to nervous system regulation that they are one of the last excretory processes to go. We'll lose our ability to urinate before we stop producing emotional tears. What do you think that says about the value of emotional tears to our nervous systems? 

Emotional tears cannot be disabled (even surgically)

Did you know that basal and reflex tears can be disabled by disabling the tear duct, but emotional tears cannot? A conscious eye surgery patient will not produce reflex tears, but they can and will produce emotional tears if the need arises!

-Frey, William H., Langseth, Murial. Crying: The Mystery of Tears. ©1985 Winston Press. 
-William Shaw, PhD; Susan Labott-Smith, PhD, ABPP; Matthew M. Burg, PhD; Camelia Hostinar, PhD; Nicholas Alen, BA; Miranda A.L. van Tilburg, PhD; Gary G. Berntson, PhD; Steven M. Tovian, PhD, ABPP, FAClinP, FAClinHP; and Malina Spirito, PsyD, MEd; Stress Effects on the Body. American Physiological Association. May 22, 2020.<https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body>
-Mukamal, R. (2017) All About Emotional Tears. American Academy of Opthalmology. May 10, 2020. <https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/all-about-emotional-tears>
-Burgess, L. (2017) Eight Benefits of Crying: Why It's Good to Shed a Few Tears.  Medical News Today. May 15, 2020. <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319631>