Social Question

Christian95's avatar

Why do we cry?(see the details)

Asked by Christian95 (3253 points ) November 9th, 2009

A few weeks ago I learned in my biology class that the tears are secreted when something touches your cornea and they remove any foreign object and also they contain a substance which desinfect the eye.
So why do we cry when we feel strong emotions?

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15 Answers

Dr_C's avatar

Tears also lubricate your eye. Tears get their water from the bloos supply… when we experience a strong emotion (i won’t go into the technical aspects) blood pressure in the head increases (you can tell by the flused face and warm feeling) which is in direct correlation to an increase in the ammount of blood in the head. In order to diminish the ammount of pressure liquid is secreted from the blood vessels in the form of tears and mucus (notice more snot accumulating when you cry).

Hope this helps.

Judi's avatar

@Dr_C ; then how come someone like me, with crazy low blood pressure (often as low as 88/45) Is a blubbering crying idiot?~

Dr_C's avatar

@Judi that would entail going into the technical aspect but basically a strong emotional response triggers the release of specific neuroendocrine response that will increase blood flow to the brain and by association the rest of the head.

Supacase's avatar

@Dr_C That makes sense, but I have a follow-up question. Why is it that people often sob and shake while crying but every once in a while tears just pour out silently? There may be no reason, but I have always wondered.

Dr_C's avatar

It is a matter of degrees… the stronger the impact of the emotional stimulus the higher the neurotransmitter concentration in the blood stream which in turn produces a stronger physical manifestation. A smaller concentration produces a less obvious response.

mattbrowne's avatar

Our emotions help us to survive. Our social interactions help us to survive. Our brain spends a lot of energy reading facial expressions of other people. It you see someone cry, it will affect you strongly. This mechanism might be supported by so-called mirror neurons.

markyy's avatar

@Dr_C (real doctor?) Why does blood pressure in the head increases (please do go into technical details), I’m very bad at this stuff and have no medical experience whatsoever (in other words, your word is good enough for me, I’m just curious), but I always figured the blood pressure and mucus levels increased because of the crying. Are you saying it’s the other way around? I guess my question is: Which was first, the chicken or the egg?

nebule's avatar

this is an interesting article…

medicalgeneralhicks's avatar

This is a Great question. Allow me to answer this for you. We Cry when we feel happiness,sadness, and just about any other type of strong feeling. We do this as way to “let of steam” or we do this when we are happy because we have such a strong feeling of happiness that we can not contain it. Crying it a great way to calm your self down when you are upset. Also it can be good for your eyes and tear ducks because when a person cries it cleans their eye’s out and can be very good for people the suffer from dry eyes or just about any other condition where your tear ducks can not produce their own tears or wetness that our eyes need to filter out unwanted objects and other bad things.
Thank You

Dr_C's avatar

@markyy (yes real doctor). I feel I need to explain a bit. The effect of pressure reduction that stems from crying is not it’s primary function or the cause of crying per se.. it’s simply one of the occurences during the crying episode and one of the ways it can be brought about. Increased bloodflow and vasodilations fosters fluid buildup in the glands which secrete their excess tears/mucus. Crying in itself can be a response to specific physical ain and/or emotional pain and stress and has been shown to not only reduce stress and increase a sense of emotional release, but also a sense of physical well being through the production of endorphins. You could say it’s a sort of self defense mechanism in which the body feels a need for release (think of the body as a steam cooker) and finds the fastest outlet.

Some studier have shown remarkable findings in clinical populations, demonstrating a
beneficial effect of shedding emotional tears on physical health. Saul and Bernstein (1941) and French (1939) found intriguing relationships between crying and course of urticaria (i.e., hives) and asthma, respectively, suggesting that crying reduces the symptoms of these conditions. Kepecs, Robin and Brunner (1951) reported a
relationship between crying and exudation into cantharides blisters in the skin, showing that the inhibition of crying was followed by an initial drop in the exudation rate, later followed by an increase if the inhibition continued. More recently, a study among
patients with rheumatoid arthritis revealed that shedding tears reduces the negative influence of stress on the neuroendocrine and immune responses in peripheral blood (Ishii, Nagashima, Tanno, Nakajima, & Yoshino, 2003), and Kimata (2006) showed that
crying reduced allergic reactions. Furthermore, an experimental rat study (Ilinskii et al., 1985) even suggests that stimulation of the lacrimal gland may have a positive effect on wound healing. However, these intriguing findings need replication. In addition to the question regarding in which conditions crying may be beneficial.

Four potential relevant hypotheses have been formulated concerning the putative underlying mechanisms that might be responsible for the supposed positive
effects of crying.. The first idea, mentioned earlier, is that crying stimulates the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is connected to relaxation and recovery, but also to helplessness and giving-up (Vingerhoets, 1985). Along these lines, Rottenberg, Wilhelm, Gross, and Gotlib (2003) and Hendriks et al. (2007) have demonstrated that crying is indeed associated with a parasympathetic rebound mechanism. Another possible mechanism that has received much attention in the popular media is Frey’s (1985) idea that tears function in the removal of toxic waste products (e.g.,stress hormones), which are released in the blood when we are in distress, which is presumed to result in a better mood and perhaps even better health.

Hope this helps.

nebule's avatar

@Dr_C I bow to you!

markyy's avatar

@Dr_C (I’ll keep that in mind next time I lose a limb) Wow, you shouldn’t have done all that, great answer! The human body sure is fascinating.

pouncey's avatar

because we can

Moegitto's avatar

I cry because I laugh too hard

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