baby cry

Why do we cry?

baby cryCrying is natural, but why exactly do we cry? We take a closer look at the science behind crying in "Why do we cry?".

You can feel it start to happen: you’re tearing up, your throat is starting to feel tight and before you know it, you’re working really hard to fight back tears. Blinking fast only seems to speed up the process and you definitely do not feel like crying right now; maybe because you’re surrounded by people or you’re in an uncomfortable situation. Does this sound familiar to you? Well, you’re (obviously) not the only one who’s ever been in this situation. Crying is normal, but not always very convenient. We need to cry every now and then to let out our emotions, to let some steam off. However, we’re all different. Some of us tear up at the drop of a hat, while others don’t even remember when the last time they cried. So, what makes us cry and why do we cry? Find out the explanation in this article.

The basic explanation

We cry because our emotions are overwhelming us so much that we start tearing up. These emotions can be happiness or sadness, but it’s much more than that. The basic explanation is that, yes, we cry because of emotions. However, there are so many emotions that can evoke this reaction from a human that it almost seems wrong to simply categorize them into either the “happiness” or “sadness” category. For example, the following emotions can make you cry as well:

Beauty: We are so awed by a piece of art, a moving theatre performance or a beautiful musical piece that we start tearing up. This happens when we see something really cute, like a newborn or a puppy, as well.

Grief: The extreme sadness that is grief can also cause us to cry. Whereas with “normal” crying some tears are shed, some tissues are used and that’s it, “grief crying” is much more than that. “Grief crying” moves up from your toes and moves through your body. You can feel it everywhere, it’s like the sadness is overwhelming you. You might wail. You might scream. This kind of crying is only reserved for the worst kinds of deaths or tragedies. Don’t worry, though. This is also perfectly natural.

The emotional release

Crying is an emotional release. You’ve been thinking, you’ve been feeling a lot of feelings and it has all come down to this; you need to let it out. This buildup will cause you to cry. However, it can also be a survival mechanism. How, you ask? Well, when you cry it’s a sign that something is up. You need to talk about it. It can tell you that you are frustrated, overworked, tired or trying to get someone’s attention, even though you haven’t noticed you were feeling this way. Crying also has a biochemical purpose; it releases stress hormones and other toxins from the body. Therefore, crying is not just an emotional release, it’s also the release of some bad stuff you don’t want in your body.

Do men cry more than women?

Men need to be tough and hardened, but who says men can’t be just as emotional as women? Unfortunately it really is true; men tend to hold in their feelings much more than women do. Women are viewed by society as delicate and elegant creatures, so it’s perfectly okay for them to cry. Watching a woman cry means she is vulnerable, but not necessarily weak. When a man cries (in public or at home) it is often still seen as a sign of weakness. This is why it’s a lot more common for a woman to cry than for a man to cry. Women score an average of 5.3 cry “sessions” a month, whereas men score a meager 1.3 “sessions” per month.

Crying doesn’t always make you feel better

As mentioned before, crying has a biochemical purpose. You release stress and toxins that were stuck in your body, not to mention the emotional relief you feel after a good “crying session.” However, it’s not always common that one feels better after crying. In fact, a Dutch study on almost 200 Dutch women found that most women did not feel better after shedding some tears. This study also confirmed how women suffering from depression and anxiety actually feel a lot worse after crying. Why? Sadly, we don't know. Maybe crying has a different effect on people who suffer from depression.

Responding to crying

Crying in public is never fun, so we’d like to give you some tips to comfort someone who has started tearing up in public.

  • Don’t just stand there and do nothing. It will make the person who is tearing up feel worse.
  • Be supportive. Hugging when you’re close to someone is good, but listening can also do wonders. Don’t hug people you don’t know very well.
  • Ask! Ask them what they might need or want before you make assumptions. 


Article written by: MirandaTempelman
Times read: 2108x
Added: 12-11-2015 05:15
Last modified: 24-11-2015 22:03

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