The Science of Crying: Why Tears are Actually Good for Your Health

It is often said that “real men don’t cry” and that crying is a sign of weakness. However, many experts argue that crying is a natural and healthy emotional response that provides numerous health benefits. In this article, we will explore the science behind crying and why tears are actually good for your health.

The Physiology of Crying

Before delving into the health benefits of crying, it is essential to understand the physiology of tears. Tears are produced by the lacrimal glands, which are located above the outer corner of each eye. These glands continuously produce small amounts of tears to keep the eyes moist. When we experience strong emotions, such as sadness, joy, or frustration, the brain sends signals to the lacrimal glands to produce a greater quantity of tears. These emotional tears contain stress hormones and other toxins that are expelled from the body through crying.

Types of Tears

There are three main types of tears: basal, reflex, and emotional. Basal tears are constantly produced to keep the eyes lubricated and protected from debris. Reflex tears are triggered by irritants, such as dust, smoke, or onions, and help wash away these substances. Emotional tears, as the name suggests, are linked to our emotions and are thought to have unique healing properties.

The Health Benefits of Crying

Contrary to popular belief, crying is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is an important physiological and emotional process that offers several health benefits. Here are some of the ways in which crying can be beneficial for your health:

  • Stress Relief: Crying is a natural way for the body to release stress hormones and toxins. When we cry, we feel a sense of relief and catharsis, which can help reduce stress and promote emotional well-being.
  • Mood Enhancement: Crying can be a mood booster. Emotional tears contain endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that can help improve mood and reduce pain.
  • Emotional Processing: Crying is a way for the body to process and cope with intense emotions. It can help us come to terms with difficult situations and find closure.
  • Communication and Connection: Crying is a form of nonverbal communication that can help us express our feelings and connect with others on a deeper level. It can foster empathy and strengthen relationships.

The Cultural and Gender Divide

Although the health benefits of crying are well-documented, cultural and gender norms often dictate how crying is perceived and expressed. In many societies, particularly in Western cultures, there is a stigma attached to crying, especially for men. This can lead to emotional suppression and a reluctance to seek help for mental health issues. It is essential to challenge these societal norms and encourage open expression of emotions, including crying, for all individuals.

Case Studies and Research Findings

Several studies have highlighted the positive effects of crying on mental and physical health. For example, a study conducted at the University of South Florida found that crying stimulates the production of oxytocin, a hormone that is associated with bonding and social connection. Another study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology revealed that crying can have a soothing effect on the body and mind, leading to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression.


In conclusion, the science of crying reveals that tears are not a sign of weakness, but rather a natural and healthy response to our emotions. Crying has a range of health benefits, including stress relief, mood enhancement, emotional processing, and improved communication. It is crucial to recognize the importance of crying as a means of emotional expression and to challenge societal norms that stigmatize it. By embracing and understanding the science of crying, we can promote overall well-being and create a more empathetic and supportive society.