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We‘re always told that a good cry will make us feel better. So why not get together and let the tears flow? Some people may think that crying is just a loss of control and a sign of weakness. But actually, crying is a form of stress release. “When you feel pressure, frustration, sorrow or anger - any negative emotions - you should take effective measures to release them. Stress is terrible for the health of your brain, heart and other organs. Crying is natural, healthy and curative. So don't wait until your sadness becomes a depressive disorder.”

Crying is perhaps the easiest and fastest way to release emotional pain, but unfortunately it has become socially unacceptable for both men and women to cry in public.  

Crying, like sneezing, coughing and defecating, it is a natural way of releasing toxins that are associated with various emotions: both those considered ‘good’ and those considered ‘bad‘. Most people are not aware of scientific studies that actually prove tears caused from ‘emotional crying’ carry toxins not normally found in the tear created to simply moisten the eye.  

There are three types of tears: continuous tears, which stop our eyes drying up; reflex tears, caused by irritants such as smoke; and emotional tears (or “psychogenic lachrymators“, the medical term). The emotion needn’t be sadness; people shed emotional tears out of frustration, anger, relief, sometimes even in an aesthetic experience such as the birth of a child or the unveiling of the latest Lamborghini. “Weeping is one of the mechanisms that humans use to get rid of some toxins. Tears may be involved in removing waste products or toxic substances from the body. Perhaps that is why so many people say they feel better after crying.”  

The chemical components of tears are far more complicated than one would imagine. Scientists had some volunteers watch a sad movie, and then they collected their tears. Later they had these volunteers cut onions to generate tears. Chemical analysis afterwards showed that the tears collected from cutting onions are very different from those created by watching a sad movie. Extensive biomedical studies demonstrate that stress hormones negatively affect virtually every system in the body including the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and immune systems. There is general agreement that there is a significant increase in the number, type and amount of stress hormones released in our bodies prior to crying. Consistently, researchers find that tears contain stress hormones. This is a critical finding since we know stress hormones cause damage to virtually all bodily systems. During the last decade, stress hormones have been shown to cause serious damage to brain cells. Stress hormones have seem to target specific parts of the brain including the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and pre-frontal cortex. Unfortunately, stress hormones attack the very brain sites implicated in the perpetuation of mood disorders. As a result, stress hormones damage the exact sites capable of reducing or eliminating the release of the toxic stress hormones.

 It is clear that crying is a primary way for the body to eliminate harmful stress hormones. Thus, crying is a natural and essential biological function that results in the elimination of stress hormones connected to every imaginable stress related health problem. The 21st century has started by removing any doubt about the positive health effects of crying.

Is it any wonder that people so often report feeling relieved after a good cry? From a public health perspective, it is obvious that the general public would benefit from a campaign to eliminate all stigma associated with crying awareness so everyone can benefit from the innumerable positive health effects of crying.  

Therapists explain that many visitors cry when they are getting psychological counseling. They are mostly women from white-collar backgrounds. Their jobs are very demanding. Usually their work requires a great deal of responsibility and they have to take care of every little thing, from troublesome customers to their relationship with the boss and other colleagues, and endless e-mails to deadlines.

In Japan, however, crying is all the rage. The Japanese call it the “crying boom” - everyone wants a bit of sadness in their lives. Instead of going to a karaoke bar after work to wind down, businesspeople watch weepy films (called “tear films“) at these crying clubs. There is also a huge demand for sad TV dramas and books, each graded by its ability to induce tears.

FYI: Whether or not animals shed tears for emotional reasons has yet to be scientifically proven though there is a significant debate over whether animals have emotions and can express them, some animals do appear to cry for emotional reasons. Elephants seem to grieve when a family member dies and will guard the body and travel long distances to view it. Elephant experts at the London Zoo once told Charles Darwin that the animals do indeed mourn. Chimpanzees also appear to cry, but some scientists still insist that the tears released by these animals are strictly for cleaning the eye.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Gracious1 wrote Jan 12, 2009
    • I love your writing about tears. I plan to share this with my husband because as an Engineer, he does not understand why I need to cry sometimes. :) Crying, for me, really is a release.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 12, 2009
    • This is very good, Rena! I do usually feel better after a little cry. If I cry for too long or too hard it gives me a terrible headache! But sometimes you just have to boo-hoo!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Rena Bennefield wrote Jan 12, 2009
    • Thanks Ladies..I to have my times when I cry also..I have a hard time crying but when it let's go look out. After it's all done you just feel so much lighter and a feeling of being renewed. As for the men..Well you know they have all that macho stuff going on..Thank God I don't have to deal with all that testosterone...LOL



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cindylouwho1966 wrote Jan 12, 2009
    • I hate being moved to angry tears in public settings, but that happens when I am passionate about something.

      I have no problem crying to my husband, and I am usually good about telling him why I am doing it.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Robinesque wrote Jan 12, 2009
    • I used to be embarrassed by my tears released by ANYTHING I was watching on TV, a commercial (can you believe it?!!!), a movie (OK, that’s allowed), but NOT anymore.  My kids now throw me a glance at anything “sappy” to check for the waterworks.  Hey, it’s a mom thing!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Rena Bennefield wrote Jan 12, 2009
    • Cindy I know what you mean..I hate when I get angry enough to cry in public..But by then I am seeing red...I am very soft hearted..And if it's something that touches my heart..I do cry. We went to see Marley and Me yesterday..I was really crying hard when he was holding the dog as he passed away. I had to do the very same thing with my cat Tuffy I had for 13 yrs..It just killed me.

      Robine..LOL..My kids were the same way..They all looked at me to see if I was gonna cry when we watched movies..But my 3 girls would have tears rolling down their cheeks also...



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