Crying is really for good for your health. Really. Tears aren’t just water. The liquid layers that make up tears are a lot more like saliva. There’s a lot swimming around in there, including oily lipids, metabolites, electrolytes, enzymes, and even hormones.
Without tears constantly hanging out around (and all over) your eyes, you wouldn’t be able to see clearly. The outer oily layer of your tears not only keeps your eye moist so it keeps working right, but it also gives the outer surface of your eye a smooth area to look through.
Crying: Emotional Tears
They’re sometimes called psychic tears. Your brain tells your tear glands to start cranking them out when you feel certain emotions. As a kid, physical pain triggers them, too. When you get older, that happens less and more emotions make you well up. They can include sympathy, morality, and compassion.
Crying: What’s In The Tear?
The liquid that leaks out when you watch a sad movie may have proteins and hormones you won’t find in tears that fall when eyes are simply watering. Scientists aren’t sure why. They think it may have something to do with your body trying to get back in balance after emotional stress.
A tear-jerker may leave you feeling drained right after the credits roll. But some research shows that about an hour and a half later, you’re likely not only to recover, but feel better than you did just before the opening scene.
Crying: Reflex Tears
They’re called reflex tears, and they crop up anytime something outside your body is bugging your eyes. Your eye’s normal moisture goes into overdrive to wash away irritants like smoke, an eyelash, or fumes from the onions you’re chopping for dinner.
Crying: Close Relationships
Keep people at arm’s length? You’re less likely to cry and more likely to stifle tears when you get the urge to. If you have close relationships, there’s a better chance your crying is healthy and normal. If you’re too attached to people (a.k.a. “clingy”), you may cry at the drop of a hat, too. But it can be harder to stop.
Crying: Women Cry More Than Men
It’s not a one-size-fits-all fact. Still, in a worldwide study, women shed tears an average of three to four times as much as men per month. Women tend to cry more intensely during each sob session, too.
Men cry about 1.9 times a month. Women average about 3.5. When you compare these numbers to other countries, they’re on the high end. Men in Bulgaria report letting the tears flow only 0.3 times a month.
Crying: Protects You
Like most of the fluids in your body, tears have molecules that help prevent the spread of many bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They’re part of your body’s first line of defense against germs.
Tears are made in your tear glands and drain through your tear ducts. Those ducts connect to the inside of your nose. So as the fluid exits, it often goes through your nostrils. It’s why you tend to get snotty when you sob.
Sometimes a cry can be cathartic. But it really depends on why you’re crying and who you’re around when you do. If you have good support when you cry, it’s likely you’ll feel like it helped. But if you try to keep your tears in, or others’ reactions make you feel shame for crying, it may not ease things at all.