Crying does serve an emotional purpose, says Sideroff, also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. \”It\’s a release. There is a buildup of energy with feelings. \”
It can also be a survival mechanism, notes Jodi DeLuca, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. \’\’When you cry,\” she says, \”it\’s a signal you need to address something. \” Among other things, it may mean you are frustrated, overwhelmed or even just trying to get someone\’s attention, which DeLuca and other researchers call a \’\’secondary gain\’\’ cry. On top of that, crying may have a biochemical purpose. It\’s believed to release stress hormones or toxins from the body, says Lauren Bylsma, a PhD student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, who has focused on crying in her research. Lastly, crying has a purely social function, Bylsma says. It often wins support from those who watch you cry. Sometimes, crying may be manipulative — a way to get what you want, whether you\’re asking a friend to go shopping with you, your spouse to agree to a luxurious vacation, or your child to get their math homework done.
Crying Out Loud: Who\’s Most Likely? Women tend to cry more than men do, most experts concur. \”Women have more permission to cry. To some degree it\’s changing,\” Sideroff says. But not entirely. \”It\’s still viewed by many, particularly men, as a sign of,\” Sideroff says. When it comes to crying habits, the population as a whole is on a spectrum, experts say, with some crying easily and others rarely. Experts aren\’t exactly sure why, though temperament probably plays a role. \”Some people are just more prone to crying,\” Sideroff says. \”Others ignore or are not as fazed by certain things [that provoke tears in criers]. \” People with a history of trauma have been found to cry more, Sideroff says. That\’s especially true, he says, if they dwell on that past. \”If you keep referring back to the past of trauma or emotional pain, it will generate more feelings of hurt. \’\’ Women who report, as well as those who are extroverted and empathetic, are more likely to say they feel comfortable crying, according to Bylsma.
Those were the results of a study Bylsma and others published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2008. Since were the only species to cry tears of emotion, youd think that we would have all the answers as to why we cry, right? Wrong. We dont really know. Some people attribute it to an emotional response to life events; others sayPit was a way of communicating before the. While there are some reasons for crying, like releasing toxins, killing bacteria, and relieving stress, one thing most people can agree on is that after a good cry, we feel better. Now, there is some research to backs up thisPtrain of thought. from the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands brought together a group of people to watch a couple of moviesPgenerally considered to be tearjerkers. The participants watched these emotionally charged films ( La vita bella (Life is Beautiful)P and Hachi: A Dog\’s Tale ) and were asked how they felt before, immediately afterward, andPthen 20 and 90 minutes afterward.
Out of those 60 participants, 28 of them cried during the films, while the other 32 didnt shed a tear. Those 32 said they felt the same way at the beginning of the film as well asPimmediately afterward, and also noted that their moods remained unchanged 20 and 90 minutes later. On the other hand, the people who cried during the films reported feeling lousy immediately after the credits rolled. Twenty minutes later, however, the criers reported that their moods had returned to the levels they reported before the films began. But then, after 90 minutes,Pthe criers reportedPthey were in even better moods than before the movie. P It\’s easy to suggest that there was a yo-yo effect in which the criers simply felt sad while watching the movie, and then returned to their original mood afterward that they only believed they felt better before.
However, it seems that over a longer period of time, these criers did indeed feel an uptick in happiness. P So why did the criers feel better after crying? Though the researchers couldn\’t explain, the criers might have feltPbetter for a number of reasons. Previous studies have found crying reduces stress by through our tears. These tears are called emotional tears, and they arePone of the three types of tears our body produces. It\’s possible these criers also felt better because crying has also been shown to causePthe release of endorphins, our body\’s natural pain killer, thus making them feel better. PSo, although they had just watched two sad movies, the criers may have been releasing the toxins of a stressful day, and when combined with endorphins, it resulted in a much better mood. P Source: Graanin A, Vingerhoets A, Kardum I, et al. PWhy crying does and sometimes does not seem to alleviate mood: a quasi-experimental study. P Motivation and Emotion. 2015. P