Why do we cry when we are sad?

Sep 28, 2012
by: Juliana

When you see someone sniffling, holding a tissue with wet eyes you know they have allergies. When you see someone holding their eye wide open then blinking and making their eyes water you know that they have something in their eye. But have you ever wondered why we cry because of emotion? It seems so normal to us because we've always known crying means someone is sad but when you think about it why would would our eyes water if we are sad? Tears form to protect our eye but what is the benefit of crying when you are upset?
One of the main reasons of crying when you're sad is communication. Crying is one way of telling someone that you are sad or need help. Just think about babies. Babies can't talk or do anything for themselves so what do they do when they need their parents to do something for them? They cry. The parents don't have to know anything else except the fact that their child is crying to know something is wrong. Crying is also a way to communicate pain to someone without having to say anything. Crying even passes through language barriers. It's true in every culture that crying means pain or sadness.
There are also many emotional reasons we cry. According to scienceline(http://scienceline.org/2006/10/ask-driscoll-tears/ ) we cry because it usually makes us feel better. Crying can relieve a lot of tension and stress from the body. When someone says let it all out when you're crying they probably mean just the tears but you are also releasing all your stress and worries when you cry. The reason crying makes us feel better is emotional tears have more manganese and release different hormones than regular tears. This effect is thought to relieve tension and balance stress levels and even eliminate built up chemicals which makes us feel better.
There are also social reasons people shed tears. According to WebMD(http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/why-we-cry-the-truth-about-tearing... )  crying is a way to manipulate people. If you see someone crying even if you don't know them you still feel sorry for them. He/she could be crying for some ridiculous reason but you still can't help the feeling that you should comfort them or find a way to somehow make them happier. That's when the person will ask for something they want and you will most likely give in because you just want them to feel better. People will win support from those who see them cry because they've shown a vulnerable side of them. Another reason people cry is to bond with each other. Especially at events like funerals or weddings. Crying can bring everyone in the family closer together. If you're at a funeral crying and look around and see everyone else is too it lets you know you are not going through this pain alone.
Whether you are crying because you need to let go of some stress, you're sad, you want something or if you are just a baby, crying is the answer. You can communicate, manipulate or release tension with a good cry. Some people think it's better to put on a brave face but really crying is much easier and better for you. There's no need to act strong if you don't feel it. Crying just makes you a human being. 


This is so interesting and I

Submitted by CarzZ on Fri, 2012-09-28 10:55.

This is so interesting and I agree! "Crying even passes through language barriers. It's true in every culture that crying means pain or sadness." It's weird to think about!

This is so good! You said in

Submitted by CarolineT on Fri, 2012-09-28 10:56.

This is so good! You said in your post crying is a way of communicating when we are sad, why do some people cry when they are happy?


Submitted by Soumya on Fri, 2012-09-28 11:02.

I think this blog is very interesting because there's both a scientific and emotional reason for why people cry. I agree that it better to cry out than hold your emotions in because You can't communicate your feelings to others and you can never get help if people don't know that you are in pain. I think the topic about babies is also very true and interesting because babies don't have a way of communicating and the only emotions they really express is happiness or sadness and they can express their sadness through crying, and that is why they cry so much. Good job, Juliana!

Very Interesting

Submitted by MichaelP on Fri, 2012-09-28 13:17.

This article was very interesting because I never knew the reasons people cry when they're upset. I didn't know that babies cry to communicate since they can't talk. I always thought crying happens automatically when people are very sad or hurt, but I just found out that people can control it and use it to their advantage. For example, people cry on purpose to get sympathy and free things from people. Other times people cry to make themselves feel good by releiving stress. Also, I didn't know crying balances chemicals in your brain, that's how it makes you feel better. I always knew crying was used to show emotion but I didn't know it used this way. Before reading this article I thought crying was involuntary for babies because they're in pain but it turns out they do it to get your attention. So babies are actually pretty smart. After reading this article I learned so many new things about crying, this was definitely worth reading.


Submitted by SamB on Fri, 2012-09-28 13:59.

This article really interested me. I always knew crying was a way to show sadness but I never knew it was a way to make you feel better, or even manipulate people. I thought it was really interesting when you said in emotional tears there are hormones that are being released, which is why after you cry, a lot of the sadness and stress is relieved. I guess I never really thought much of crying. I have obviously cried before and I have seen people crying but I never suspected crying to have an actual meaning. I just figured it was how the body worked. After reading this it makes sense why people cry. It is your bodies way of getting rid of stress, and afterwards it helps you feel better.
You also wrote that crying is a way to manipulate people. I agree with this, but it mostly only works for kids. If a child is crying to there parents about going to a friends house, or wanting to buy a toy, most likely the parent is going to do what they want because no one wants there kid to be upset. As a child you don't know why you are crying you just know that you really want that toy, and although your parents know that they really don't have to get it for you, chances are they will.
When people say "toughen up" or "put on a brave face" you really don't have to. Holding in your emotions will only make you feel worse, and eventually you will crack. So now that I know crying is better for you, I no longer have to feel the need to suck it up.


Submitted by christian22 on Mon, 2012-10-01 22:14.

This is SO interesting! This is such a unique topic, one that really makes you think. Having never actually questioned the idea of crying for emotion before, your question made me more aware of how strange it really is, as well as gave me solid answers as to why we do cry! Good job!!

comment on your blog

Submitted by kendal l on Mon, 2012-10-08 20:40.

Juliana, this was such an interesting topic! I really liked it when you said that "Crying can relieve a lot of tension and stress from the body." I find that this is true, especially if I am stressed or nervous. It really does help to have a good cry. I totally agree with what you said. You are an excellent writer, and I can't wait to read more of your posts!

Wow Juliana this is a great

Submitted by Dexter_Holms247 on Tue, 2012-10-09 08:38.

Wow Juliana this is a great article that you have written. The passage that you wrote has great structure and flow. I love when you talk about how crying is a way to relive stress. I never thought about how crying can bond people together. Now that I am thinking about it, it does. Your article is great and has made me think about a subject that I usually dont think about that often. You have also made me use my brain to think about what you were writing.

Thanks for writing this post. Keep up the good work and keep writing


Submitted by DanielaB on Wed, 2012-10-10 18:33.


I never knew that crying actually makes people feel better, but now looking back to my personal experience it's true that whenever I cried in my life I always felt more relaxed afterward. Why does crying relieve tension and stress? A study done by the University of Minnesota proved that the stress that builds up in a person's body can be removed in tears. If you don't cry, you aren't relieving the stress from your body. That could lead to heart attack or some type of damage in your brain. 

You need to cry because it really is healthy for you, but most parent's enourage children from a very young age not to cry. When I was a kid I used to cry very often and very loud and I would get in trouble by parents all the time because eventually it becomes annoying. What I think is the best think to teach your children and yourself is to hold in your emotions until you get home into bed and then let it out. It's true that people think of you as a weak person if you cry in public so hold it in then let it out.

Why We Cry

Submitted by AshlieG on Wed, 2012-10-10 19:51.

This is very interesting, I never thought that crying could mean so many things. I always new crying was the only way small babies could tell they need something but it could also be a bonding experience. Like the OP said when your at a funeral or wedding and everyone around you is crying you share a common bond and it could be sad or happy for everyone else there with you. You are right, when you see someone crying you feel sorry for them and want to ask whats wrong even if you don't know them. I do agree with you that if someone is crying and asking for something they are more likely to get it since you think it will make them feel better. I didn't know that some people cry to relieve stress. I guess it makes sense because sometimes I just cry and when people ask me why I don't know. Then just in stress relieving crying there are different hormones that come out, compared to when you cry when you are sad. This was very well written and I learned a lot about why we cry.