Researchers have proven what many caregivers have already figured out on their own: sometimes there's nothing like a good cry to make you feel better. Crying is cathartic.
Neuroscientist and tear researcher Dr. William H. Frey II, PhD, the director of the Alzheimer's Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has spent over 15 years studying crying and tears.
Research shows that:
- 85% of women and 73% of men felt less sad and angry after crying.
- On average, women cry 47 times a year, men cry 7 times a year.
- Crying bouts last 6 minutes on average.
- Tears are more often shed between 7 and 10 p.m.
According to Frey, "crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, it's a healthy one." Crying is a natural way to reduce emotional stress that, left unchecked, has negative physical affects on the body, including increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other stress-related disorders.
How Crying is Good for You
- It Relieves Stress
Because unalleviated stress can increase our risk for heart attack and damage certain areas of our brain, humans' ability to cry has survival value, Frey says.
- Crying Lowers Blood Pressure
Crying has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate immediately following therapy sessions during which patients cried and raged.
- Tears Remove Toxins
In addition, Frey says tears actually remove toxins from the body. Tears help humans remove chemicals that build up during emotional stress.
- It Reduces Manganese
The simple act of crying also reduces the body's manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum.
- Emotional Crying Means You're Human
While the eyes of all mammals are moistened and soothed by tears, only human beings shed tears in response to emotional stress. Emotional expression acknowledges the feelings you're having. Emotions motivate us to empathize, coordinate and work as a unit to best survive
So, next time you feel those tears welling up or that lump in your throat, go ahead, have a good cry.