A Good Cry And Do Some Good

A study found why crying can feel so pointless. Psychologists (University of South Florida and Tilburg University) analyzed volunteers’ detailed accounts of more than 3,000 crying episodes and found that the benefits of crying depend entirely on the what, where and when of a particular crying episode. For example, the effects of crying depend on who is shedding the tears. A majority of the volunteers reported improvements in their mood after a crying session, possibly from receiving social support during their episode. However, one third of the survey participants reported no improvement in mood and a tenth felt worse after they cried their emotions out.

… Humans’ propensity to shedding tears has had psychologists scratching their heads for a while. The question is how such a simple behavior as crying could benefit us. It turns out that crying specifically helps control breathing to overcome the body’s negatively aroused state. When a person experiences overwhelming stress and arousal, his or her heart rate increases and body begins to sweat. But as a person cries, his or her breathing slows, rendering a calming effect.