Don’t forget to cry!

“The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.”

–Henry Maudsley

Did you know that our bodies create 3 different types of tears? 

(1) Reflex
(2) Continuous
(3) Emotional

What’s more, each type of tear has it’s own healing purpose, e.g.

(1) Reflex tears allow our eyes to clear out noxious particles when 
they’re irritated by smoke or exhaust.

(2) Continuous tears are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated–these contain a chemical called “lysozyme” which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection.

(3) Emotional tears have special health benefits… and it is these 
health benefits which I have been studying this past week.

Whilst reflex and continuous tears are self-explanatory, I thought I would highlight the benefits of emotional tears and here are just a few interesting findings:

Modern day science has found that ’emotional tears’ are beneficial in the following ways:

1 Emotional tears release the hormone ‘cortisol’ from our body.

Dr Frey, Ramsey Medical Center, Minneapolis, found that tears caused by emotions had high levels of cortisol, which are then excreted into the body during times of stress!  Whilst cortisol is an important hormone that serves to balance normal body function, high and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have a negative effect and have been found to be associated with all sorts of medical problems, e.g. 

Impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycaemia, type 2 diabetes, decreased bone density, decreased muscle tissue, raised blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slower wound healing, increased abdominal fat, which is associated with heart attacks, strokes, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) which in turn can lead to other health problems.

Photo by Liza Summer on
2 Additional studies also suggest that emotional crying stimulates the production of ‘endorphins’, i.e. the body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones!”

I’m sure we all have experienced the benefits of ‘endorphins’ at some time or other and can each personally vouch that we do indeed feel much better after a good cry.

3 Psychologists consider that when people stifle their emotions, it actually cultivates anger and depression.  

However, they also found that breathing tends to improve after crying, i.e. it becomes deeper which in turn helps to control anger and anxiety.

4 Emotional tears also alert us to a ‘need’ in others.

Emotional tears can often be a good indicator that someone needs our prayer support, comfort, and encouragement.  

Additional research

  • 88.8 % of people feel better after crying.
  • On average women cry 47 times a year and men a mere 7.
  • Until puberty, crying levels are much the same for each gender–testosterone may reduce crying in boys while oestrogen and prolactin increases the tendency in girls.
  • Men excrete more of the toxins related to emotional stress in their sweat! Because they have higher sweat levels than women. 
  • Saying: “Be brave, don’t cry” is unwise and harmful because crying can actually help reduce pain.
What we can take away from this study?

Emotional tears are the body’s way of helping to protect and preserve our lives whilst under immense stress and pressure.  They are scientifically regarded as being beneficial psychologically, physically, and socially.  What’s more, each type of tear has it’s own unique healing purpose and therefore, we should never, ever be afraid to cry. Stifling tears is detrimental to our health and well-being.

All that’s left to say then is, “Cry baby! It’s positively good for you!” Who would have thought?

Please note: Frequent crying is not always good for you and can be a sign of more serious conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or postnatal depression. Therefore, if you have a low mood and are crying regularly, you may need to seek medical help.

Sources of medical/scientific information:

Ezine Articles by Catherine Quel The Health Benefits of Tears

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