Need a good cry? Go ahead, it may be beneficial

Need a good cry? Go ahead, it may be beneficial

Whether moved by a story’s happy ending, saddened by a breakup or tearing up while chopping onions, crying is completely normal and may even benefit your health. In fact, both men and women cry more than you might think.

According to the American Psychological Association, women cry an average of 30-64 times a year, while men cry an average of 5-17 times per year.

But why do you cry? For starters, you produce three types of tears:

  • Basal tears. Responsible for keeping your eyes moist, fed and safe. They act as a steady guard that keeps all the dirt and grime out.
  • Reflex tears. These tears kick in to rinse out bad items like smoke, stray eyelashes or onion vapors.
  • Emotional tears. Occur when you’re super happy, really sad or even scared. They differ from basal or reflex tears by containing additional hormones and proteins.

“When we talk about crying, we usually are referring to emotional cries,” says Tutu Mekete, a behavioral health nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Care. “People might try to suppress tears because they view them as a sign of weakness, but they are skipping out on a host of benefits like boosting their mood, releasing toxins from their body and fighting off bacteria.”

Research shows that letting tears flow can have a calming effect. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or bummed out, turns out there’s a good reason for the weep. Sobbing acts as a calming mechanism that soothes your mind, eases your stress and anxiety, and plays a role in keeping your body systems balanced.

“Crying helps to relax the body and return to homeostasis, which is super important for your overall health,” Mekete says. “So, the next time you find yourself tearing up after a rough day or during a sad movie, remember it’s not just about the feels. Your body is doing some pretty clever stuff to help you stay in tip-top shape, both mentally and physically.”

But are you crying too often? Mekete says to be aware of the following:

  • Uncontrollable crying and difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Lack of motivation in daily activities
  • Impulsive behavior or suicidal thoughts

“Crying more often than usual could be a sign of depression or other mental health issues. If you think you could be depressed, talk to your doctor or mental health provider,” says Mekete.

Are you looking for a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin.

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About the Author

Amber Thompson
Amber Thompson

Amber Thompson is a marketing graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In her free time, Amber enjoys passion-filled projects including blogging and photography. Amber loves spending her free time reading journalistic columns, listening to motivational podcasts and discovering creative recipes to get her young son to eat his vegetables.