What is the use of crying?

All human beings who have normal (average) psychophysiological functioning will have cried and will do so several times in their lifetime. In fact, when a baby is born, it is the first thing that is expected of him and the first sign that his body is functioning properly.

We all know that crying is natural and it happens to us when our eyes itch or when we are sadBut then we’re going to ask ourselves what mechanisms and what utility is behind this.

Types of tears …

It will be necessary first differentiate physiological tears from emotional or psychological tears.

Physiological tears

the physiological tears are those that serve to protect our visual system (eyes), there are reflections and lubricants.

Lubricating tears are those that originate from the cornea, cleanse and protect the eye from external environmental agents (dust, batteries, etc.). A daily amount of lubricating tears of about 1 ml is produced. Reflex tears are those that protect against external aggressions such as gases or irritating chemicals, are those that appear when peeling an onion for example, they contain a large amount of antibodies that will protect the eye from bacterial attacks.

emotional tears

Finally we have the emotional tears, Which we will focus on.

These appear in front of a strong emotion, the hypothalamus intervenes in the emotional interpretation and is the one which sends the orders to the ocular organs for the production of tears. According to a study (Walter & Chip, 2006) on a sample of more than three hundred people, on average men cry with emotional tears once a month and women at least five times a monthThe difference between the two sexes is explained by hormonal variations during menstruation.

Why do we cry when something turns us on?

And what is the point of producing tears in a situation of emotional intensity? They are usually faced with a painful situation, in this case secreting tears seems to have an analgesic and palliative function of pain.

As demonstrated by William H. Frey, biochemist at St. Louis Medical Center. Paul-Ramsey of Minnesota, the emotional tears we shed in the face of a dramatic situation of ours or others carry with them out of the body a good dose of potassium and manganese chloride, endorphins, prolactin, adenocorticotropin and leucine-encephalin (a natural pain reliever).

The brain when we cry

Also, crying the brain it depletes a lot of glucose and after that we feel tired and more relaxed as if we had done sports, which can help the body rest in stressful situations. In addition, the mere fact of being crying will make us take hold of ourselves, introspect ourselves and allow us to cover the need to listen and take care of ourselves for a few moments, leaving out the other external things that belong to us. during the day. today.

The social function of crying

Of course, shedding tears has an adaptive social function very important, when we see others cry we know they may need help or treatment other than usual.

Thus, if we add the biological function to the intrapersonal and the relational, shedding tears after a loss for example, will help us to get through the emotion better.

And why do we sometimes cry when we are happy?

When we experience an emotion of extreme joy, our body sometimes interprets it as “excessive” and our emotional system as a loss of controlIn these circumstances, crying helps restore emotional balance.

What if I can’t cry when I’m sad?

Some people suffer from an autoimmune disease, Sjören’s syndrome, in which there is a permanent dryness in the tear.

But leaving aside the possible physiological problems of producing tears, some people find it difficult to cry when they have a loss or strong emotion, this is usually accompanied by an inability to feel sad. This can be the result of several causes and often has to do with a poor emotional management experience at one point (For example having suffered from severe depression or having a loved one suffering from it), through which an irrational fear of crying is triggered.

Social norms also influence some cultures where crying is ‘frowned upon’, in many cultures something as natural and innate as crying is ‘repressed’ and it is important to relearn how to cry when needed, because as discussed a few lines above, it has multiple benefits for our emotional health.

Bibliographical references:

  • Baños Díez, March Pujol. Ocular pharmacology. Univ. Polytechnic. from Catalonia; 2004
  • Walter, Chip. Why are we crying? American scientific mind. December 2006; 17 (6): 44.
  • William H. Frey, Muriel Langseth. Crying: the mystery of tears. Minneapolis: Winston Press; 1985.

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