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The Science of Tears

Did you know that emotional tears help your body release the chemical material created by strong emotions? Some of these materials are toxic to the brain and nervous system at excessive levels. That's why our body has a system for spontaneous release.

The science is clear. Emotional tears are not a sign of weakness –
they are an essential regulatory process your nervous system depends on.

Emotional tears promote communication

Have you ever noticed that emotional tears are more "sticky"? Some researchers believe that emotional tears are more viscous so they can linger as a signal to others. Mammals thrive through nurturance, and this intelligent evolution may help others know we need care when we can't advocate for ourselves!

Emotional tears endure beyond other body functions

You'll lose your ability to urinate before you lose the ability to produce emotional tears! What does that tell us about their value to your nervous system? The excretory process of emotional tearing is so vital to the nervous system that we can cry until our very last breath.  

Emotional tears cannot be disabled (even surgically)

Basal and reflex tears can be disabled through surgery, but did you know that emotional tears cannot? If you are ever conscious during eye surgery, rest assured you can and will produce emotional tears if your body decides it needs to! 

Emotional tears help the body restore wellbeing

Stress hormones interfere with the function of your heart, lungs, organs, and even motor functions! When you allow stress hormones to release through emotional tears you activate the parasympathetic nervous system and keep your body working effectively!

Emotional tears promote balance in real time

The endocrine system uses tears to quickly remove harmful waste material when stress levels get too high. A quick cry when overwhelmed is the fastest way you can support your brain and nervous system. That's why a good cry can result in immediate feelings of relief and renewal!

Emotional tears eliminate waste from stress hormones

The proteins and hormones found in emotional tears are not found in basal or reflex tears. Crying removes adrenocorticotropic hormone, Leu-enkephalin, prolactin, potassium, and manganese. (Did you know that depression is correlated with high levels of manganese?)

Scientific American

Are human beings the only primates that cry?

"The answer is yes: tears appear to be unique to humans among the primates."

Featured Videos

-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.<>
-Mukamal, R. (2017) All About Emotional Tears. American Academy of Opthalmology. May 10, 2020. <>
-Burgess, L. (2017) Eight Benefits of Crying: Why It's Good to Shed a Few Tears.  Medical News Today. May 15, 2020. <>

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