Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Why We Cry: The Truth About Tearing Up

    The lowdown on tears: Why some cry easily, others don't cry, and how to handle all those tears.
    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    It starts with a quivering lip. Or maybe blinking faster and faster to keep the wetness from escaping.

    Before you know it, you're getting teary -- again.

    Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

    Forgive a Family Member

    By Julie Taylor It’s the holiday season, which means many of us get the chance to spend time with family members we haven't seen in ages. Sounds good in theory, but if you’ve been holding on to old family grudges for years, the holidays can leave you feeling more stressed than blessed. (It’s not like you can avoid the person who hurt your feelings when he’s sitting right next to you at the dinner table asking you to pass the turkey...) So how do you move on emotionally from the family drama once...

    Read the Forgive a Family Member article > >

    You may be one of those people who cry at the drop of a hat -- not to mention weddings, birthday parties, your kids' school plays, and the humane society public service announcements showing those adorable dogs in need of new homes.

    Or you may be the type who can't remember when you last cried.

    Either way, crying often catches the often-teary eyed or the usually stoic off guard -- striking at a time or place where you don't want to weep -- and others don't want to watch you weep.

    Just ask New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, normally stoic, who got teary as he announced the retirement of his star linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Or Hilary Clinton, whose tears one night on the 2008 presidential campaign trail were splashed across TV screens.

    Football coaches and politicians crying in public may reflect a society that's evolving to become a bit more comfortable with emotion. But crying in front of people can still be awkward for the person crying and people around them.

    What's behind our crying? Why do some people cry so much more or less readily than others? And what's the best way to handle all those tears? Is there a way not to cry when it's totally inappropriate, such as in response to your boss declining that request for a raise? Researchers and therapists who study crying share what they've learned -- and what still puzzles them.

    Why Do You Cry?

    The ''why'' of crying may seem obvious and straightforward: You're happy or sad. But that's too simplistic.

    ''Crying is a natural emotional response to certain feelings, usually sadness and hurt. But then people [also] cry under other circumstances and occasions," says Stephen Sideroff, PhD, a staff psychologist at Santa Monica--University of California Los Angeles & Orthopaedic Hospital and clinical director of the Moonview Treatment Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

    For instance, he says, ''people cry in response to something of beauty. There, I use the word 'melting.' They are letting go of their guard, their defenses, tapping into a place deep inside themselves."

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
     
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
     
    Take your medication
    Slideshow
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Article
     
    Hungover man
    Slideshow
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Slideshow
     
    Woman worn out on couch
    Article
    Happy and sad faces
    Quiz
     
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    Article
    laughing family
    Quiz