Ask The Pharmacist: What happens when you cry
When we think of crying, we usually relate it to grief, pain (whether it be emotional or physical), shame and sometimes, even guilt. We cry for a lot of reasons.
Sometimes we cry because “I’ll never let go, Jack” happens in a movie. When I was pregnant with my daughter Samara in 1989, I remember crying at some totally inappropriate moment during the whale movie, Orca. It was so odd, but to this day I recall how good it felt to let those tears out and blow my nose. It’s funny looking back.
Personally, I’m not a crier, it takes a lot, but I have, and I do, and on occasion it’s provoked by normal things such grief, or the fear of losing someone I love, or if I really, really hurt myself. I once started crying after pain induced by cutting open my finger while chopping an onion.
Any type of emotional surge, whether it is positive or negative, can trigger tears. When we’ve finished crying, we feel so much better! That feeling of relief you experience after crying comes from “feel-good” hormones and neurotransmitters that are released during the episode.
Emotional crying contains “leucine-enkephalin,” an endorphin which improves mood and reduces pain. Your tears contain endorphins, so when you cry, you can feel yourself start to settle down almost instantly after shedding some tears. As an added effect, our emotional pain tolerance increases after we have cried. This is human nature. Some other interesting benefits associated with crying include enhanced communication, better coping skills and antibacterial effects. Let me explain:
Crying releases stress. Stress-crying releases toxins that assist the body in ridding itself of chemicals that are known to raise cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that puts fat around your belly and so controlling that could contribute to weight loss. Controlling cortisol helps you cope with stress. Do not allow your stress or emotions to remain bottled up inside you.
Tears are antibacterial. As for the killing off of bacteria, an article published by Medical Daily found that tears (which contain lysozyme) can kill up to 95 percent of bacteria in under 10 minutes!
Crying improves communication. Babies cannot speak, so they let you know about their discomfort by crying. As for adults, seeing another person’s tears quickly sums up the extreme level of anger, frustration or sadness, that words fail to convey. I have a longer article at my website which explains why some people prefer to cry alone in the shower.
Wherever you cry, it would be a disservice to yourself, your mental health and your physical body to prevent the occasional vulnerable state (and euphoria) that emotional crying provides. In order to restore balance to both your body and mind, you should try to embrace the lacrimation. Men especially, it is a sign of a kind-hearted sensitive man and there’s nothing wrong with letting your guard down. It is not a sign of weakness like you might think.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.