We cry for many reasons. An argument or a fight with a loved one, an untimely death, physical pain, loneliness, frustration, break-ups and sometimes even when we’re happy.
The tears simply flow even when we try our best to hold them in Many people have likened this to a tap being left open somewhere inside us. But, has it ever struck you why? Why do we cry?
Biologically speaking, men have more testosterone, which inhibits tears. On the other hand, women have more prolactin, which stimulates tears. But it’s not just these two hormones that decide whether you cry or not.
You’ll be surprised to know that there are actually three different types of crying that exist, involving different mechanisms and chemicals. Yes, an emotion so simple has its types as well! They are:
Basal Tears: A protein-rich antibacterial liquid is constantly secreted by the lacrimal gland present in the outer edge of the eyeball. When we blink, the liquid is released, which then lubricates the entire eye surface. By lubricating the eye, basal tears protect them.
Reflex Tears: These tears protect the eyes from irritants such as wind, smoke, and chemicals. They also help flush out random speck of dirt or any object that gets into the eye. A good example of reflex tears are those that you cry while chopping an onion.
Emotional Crying: These tears are produced in such a large quantity that they overflow and overwhelm the nasal canal of the tear ducts and flow down our cheeks. This type of crying occurs in response to stress, frustration, sadness, and happiness, and any other emotion that evokes tears.
Apart from prolactin and testosterone modulating your crying, other hormones and neurotransmitters play a role as well, the likes of serotonin induced by the emotion of love, ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) which leads to the production of cortisol in order to flush out stress from your body and mind and testosterone and prolactin that kick in and rise and fall as we age.