Why Do We Cry and What Is the Process of Crying?
We all love a good cry. As long as its purely to release emotion while watching a film. But there are many forms of crying. We cry when a baby is born because we are happy. We cry with grief, which in itself is a completely different feeling, but still the tears come.
And we cry when we are feeling just plain sad for no particular reason. Somehow a good cry tends to make us feel better, or if not better then relieved in some small way.
Tears clean the eyes, they are packed full of protein, oil water and mucus. As we open the floodgates of tears, we start to feel a release of tension that for a few moments at least, makes us stop and regain our breath.
Crying a River!
Did you know that we produce nearly 10 ounces of tears, or basal tears as they are called, a day? This is to clean and protect your eyes from drying out. If you get an excess of tears you will notice that your nose starts to run.
The reason behind this is because the tears that you produce to clean your eyes drains down into your nasal cavity, and make you, well, sniffle!
The other type of common tears are the ones that you notice when you peal onions, or get something in your eye. If the weather is freezing cold your eyes always start to water. This is caused by a clever little reaction called the Reflex Tears.
Hormones in your eyelids receive a message via your sensory nerves in your eye. The cornea to be precise. This in turn leads to a message being sent to your brain, and then back to your eyelids which then goes on to produce hormones in the glands. Clever eh?
Different Chemical Reactions in Tears
Evidently there have been studies that say each and every type of tears whether they are emotional tears or reflex etc produce different chemicals in them.
For example emotional tears are said to produce something called prolactin, which is the same as the chemical in breast milk.
It does make sense if you think about it.
Because each and every emotion we have produces different chemicals. For example, grief can cause a build up of vary types of ligands (peptides).
The scientists identified certain emotions that cause a body wide release of molecules, These go on to perform various functions.
They travel through the body hooking up with receptors on the cells. Once they are attached they send messages that can impact our functions both at the systemic and functioning levels.*
The facts are startling. In other words every thought or emotion you have can systematically have an effect on each and every cell in your body!
For more indepth reading on how our bodies are affected by emotions read:
And of course it does make sense. If you think about it, after we have a good cry we do feel better. But if we cry over something really sad we tend to feel really tired and emotionally drained. Literally.
Our bodies are one organism if you like. If we hurt our toe, we can feel it causing pain in the leg too. If we bang our head it can make us sick. So it doesn't really take a huge leap to realise that every single time we have a good or bad emotion it can affect us on a cellular level.
Painkillers and Anti Bacterial
But getting back to tears, why do they make us feel better? Well, emotional tears produce not only prolactin, they also produce something called leucine enkephalin which is a natural painkiller!
Basal tears form lysozyme which is a natural anti bacterial and anti viral chemical which cleans the eyes every time we blink. And onion crying for example produce tears that stimulates the lachrymal glands.
I bet you never thought of all these chemicals when you were blubbering while watching Pretty Woman on TV!
The most amazing thing about tears is that they are said to wash out all the toxic chemicals that are produced in our bodies when we get stressed! How clever is that?
Cleansing Water Inside and Out.
We all cry. If you say you don't then you are either extremely lucky or just plain lying! On a psychological level crying is a real release of pent up emotions which give you a feeling of calmness after the storm.
Many of us cry for a different reason than what people think we are crying over. For example, its been said that when you listen to music, at say a concert, you will see many people with tears in their eyes.
Is it the music that is moving them? Well yes it can be. But if you take a closer look you will notice that many of the people who are moved to tears are in fact older. So in other words they are doing something that the youngsters who are in the audience with them don't do.
They are remembering. Loved ones, happy times, sad experiences and so on. The music is just acting as an emotional trigger and bringing the memories back to life.
So if you ever see a person crying over a film or a piece of music, don't laugh, they maybe be remembering something a lot more important.
Crying by Roy Orbison
So just remember, have a good cry. Its great for the body. But remember, crying too much can cause a psychological effect on your body that is detrimental to your health. Bipolar depression can cause someone to cry more often.
Watch out for the symptoms, and if you see someone crying a river, then get them checked out. They may have an underlying physiological or mental problem.
Hope this didn't move you to tears!
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© 2014 Nell Rose