Is Crying A Good Thing?

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Ever since I was little, I have always been told crying is good for you. I vividly remember the first time I heard this, a feeling of distraught came across me. Why would something associated with something so sad be good? Is it actually true? This didn’t make any sense to me, and hasn’t for years, so I decided to look more into it.

To clarify, there are actually three types of tears: reflexive, continuous, and emotional. While reflexive and continuous tears are used to help keep your eyes clean physically, emotional tears are patently due to a reaction from your emotions (psych today). In this blog, I will therefore discuss the effects of emotional tears.

Structurally, tears contain chemicals and toxins. Therefore, when we cry emotional tears,  feel-good chemicals get released (Gilbertson 2014). For example, it has been found that out of the three types of tears, emotional comprise of the highest level of stress hormones (Govender). Thus, when we cry, we release some of this stress. These types of tears also contain the most manganese (Govender). Manganese affects mood, so when we cry our body reduces its manganese level, and thus our mood is improved (Sollitto).

Another reason crying is good for you is because it helps you emotionally internally. Tears do this by exposing your true emotion, and allow you to actually deal with said emotion. According to an occupational health psychologist, Professor Gail Kinman, this is due to the Freudian theory. This theory implies that it’s more advantageous to let your feelings out, opposed to bottling them up, because if you bottle them up for too long, you will not only likely to be psychologically negatively affected, but physically affected too. (Mann 2011).

In a recent observational study, this theory was supported. In this study, participants were shown a sad movie, and whether people cried or did not cry was noted. The study shows the progression of the participants moods after different time increments. Immediately after the movie, the non-criers felt the same as they did before the movie, while the criers felt worse. Then, after 20 minutes, the criers felt as they did before they watched the movie, and after 90 minutes, the criers even rated their mood higher than the non-criers did by this time. (Levine 2015). Here it is clear that crying has the ability to improve one’s mood. William H. Frey, a biochemist conducted a similar experiment where he also made participants cry by showing sad movies and found the same result; crying made the participants feel better (Levine 2015). Frey concluded that this happens because crying releases the chemicals: prolactin, adrenocortiotrpoic, and leucine enkephalin which are the chemicals that produce stress while watching said movie (Mann 2011).

Although these studies and observations support the phenomenon that crying is in fact good for you, there are restrictions and exceptions. First of all, to actually improve your mood from crying, you must cry after you’ve solved or fixed the reason as to why you are crying. This is due to the fact that if you cry before the reason is fixed, there is no benefit to the crying. Another exception is that crying will most likely not improve your mood and/or health if you suffer from a mood disorder such as anxiety and/or depression (Thompson 2010).

In conclusion, it is evident that crying does in fact improve your mood, so it therefore is good for you. Although this is true, we have to remember it is not true all of the time, and that if there are more serious conditions, greater action needs to be placed instead of relying on a good cry to fix everything.

14 thoughts on “Is Crying A Good Thing?

  1. Kameron Villavicencio

    I was automatically drawn to this post because as a theatre major, we always see crying as healthy (we’re extremely open with our emotions). However, it is first important to really distinguish what you mean by “good”. Perhaps healthy would be a better word choice. I found a Huffington Post article that breaks it down simply ( It’s called “5 Reasons Crying is Actually Good For You”. You could break it down into the different categories as such. I don’t know if I would say this study is the best case for crying being “good” for you. It is an observational study, but certainly intriguing. Also could you go more into the details? The sample size is never mentioned. It would be important to know how many participants were involved in the study.

  2. Maura Katherine Maguire

    Hi Melissa, really awesome post. While I hate to admit it, I myself am a crier. I find myself crying whether I am happy or sad. I really related to this article and am delighted to see that crying can even positively affect your mood. While I feel I cry for different emotions I had no idea there were different types of tears. Loved reading this blog post, it kept me intrigued until the very end.

  3. Cassandra N Kearns

    This was a really interesting topic! I found it interesting that there are three different kinds of tears, and when you cry emotionally, the body is releasing stress hormones. As a girl, I feel as though we tend to cry a little bit more than men. After reading your post, I decided to look into that theory and see if it was true. I found a statistic through this website, , that says women cry about 47 times per year, compared to 7 times by men. I wonder if this is due to our genetic makeup or maybe just different possible confounding third variables that us as woman may deal with?

  4. Christopher Ronkainen

    This is such an interesting topic choice! I too can recall on multiple occasions to ‘let it out’ and cry and get my emotions out and that it would make me feel better. However, I never knew that there could actually be a real reason behind it and that crying releases stress hormones. While doing some of my own research I came across an awesome article that I think you would like on this topic. It has a list of six benefits of crying. Who knew that crying could be so helpful!

  5. Danielle Megan Sobel

    Cool post. I’ve never actually heard this theory before so it was interesting to read about it. Growing up I’ve always been an emotional person, crying and expressing my feelings outwardly a lot, however I was never told it was a “good” thing for my body. This list are some good physical reasons to cry (some include that tears help us see and that they remove toxins)

  6. Mairead Donnard

    This is such an interesting topic and a well done blog! The study that you cited was intriguing that the criers ultimately felt better after the movie than the non-criers. Moreover, I found most interesting that crying is only truly beneficial when what we are upset about has already been resolved. You might find fascinating to know that the Japanese have found crying to be so beneficial to overall health that there are “crying clubs” where people come together to literally just cry it out. They do this because crying releases stresses therefore improving overall mental health. You can read more about it here along with other benefits of crying:

  7. Mackenzie French

    I found your post very interesting since I have always wondered whether crying actually does anything good for you, since growing up I have always been told that “crying isn’t going to help.” Yes, it may not technically solve the problem but it does make me feel better. Like the research you provided, I personally feel that when I cry I am letting out my emotions and in essence feel better. I know that it isn’t good for you to hold in your tears and let it build up inside of you, but what I find interesting is the whole crying of happiness. It’s weird to think that people cry at their saddest times and their happiest times. Good post!

  8. Amanda Voirrey Rust


    I enjoyed this article because sometimes I try really hard to hold back my tears, while other times I just let them out. What is better for me? Well according to your blog I learned a lot in the sense that it definitely depends on the timing of the situation. I have noticed that when people cry in a stressful time, it tends to only make the situation worse. On the other hand, crying when something is being solved could almost provide a sense of relief. Your blog makes me less inclined to hesitate when I feel the need to cry, because according to those studies it is evident that it will more likely bring positive effects, as to negative ones. I do wonder though, who is more happy and content with their lives in the long run: the people that cry often, or the people that hold back?.

  9. Molly Mccarthy Tompson

    I cry at EVERYTHING so I though this post was extremely interesting. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m angry, I cry when I’m frustrated, and sometimes I cry for no reason at all. You were very thorough and it was useful that you included multiple different sources and studies to discuss the positive effects of crying. You included information about both psychological/emotional and physical benefits of crying. I found another article that describes and enhances the information you found about emotional and physical science of crying

  10. Daniele Patrice Loney

    This was a very cool topic so i’m glad you picked it! I didn’t know that there were different “types” of crying. I can totally relate to the phenomenon of feeling better AFTER crying once i’ve let all of my emotions out. After reading your post, I started to think about how sometimes certain people are more emotional than others. For example, I cry at basically any movie if it is even remotely sad and I know that is not the case for a lot of people. I looked into this more and will attach a link that explain the thought I had! Hopefully it gives you an even better understanding on crying and why we do it.

  11. vek5025

    I think that this is a very well-written article and I enjoyed the way that you organized it. I never knew that there were three types of tears. I wonder why other animals don’t cry when they are sad the way that we do and if their hormones are released in a different way.

  12. Kaitlyn A Kaminski

    Hi Melissa,

    I enjoyed reading this post and am glad to hear that crying improves your mood. I can agree with that and I’m glad you provided a reasoning behind that. I liked how you showed both sides of the story- if you cry you could increase your mood, but if you suffer from a mood disorder, then you will not. You provided good sources an did well overall. I found a journal ( explaining who crying is good for and thought it might be interesting for you to look at. Keep up the good work!

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