What Are Tears For? Experts Explain Why We Cry

When people are moved emotionally, hearing a child say her first word, watching a feel-good TV series they wish never ended, or reading a breakup text, they often tear up. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that the eye produces between 15 and 30 gallons of tears annually.

Crying is more than just expressing sadness or happiness. Though animals cry, humans are probably the only ones who shed tears for emotional reasons. Experts explain why we cry.

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Why Do We Cry For Different Reasons?

When we get moving, our eyes also tear. Dr. Jen Caudle tells Yahoo Life there are three types of tears: basal tears, emotional tears, and reflex tears. Caudle explains that basal tears have three layers and are the most complex. She explains that crying stimulates the body to produce endorphins, also known as the feel-good chemical. Psychiatrist Rachel Rohaidy tells Yahoo Life that crying responds to emotions like sadness, anger, and physical pain.

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Is Excessive Crying Possible?

Rohaidy says if one cannot stop crying and it persists into daily life, then anger, depression, panic, or helplessness may be lurking underneath. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you if you experience uncontrollable crying and feelings of sadness.

Several factors may cause frequent crying. Diaz explains that when the eye surface is unhealthy, reflex tears continually drain down. Crying can be bothersome and blur vision. There can also be a blockage in the tear drainage system that causes excessive tearing. She recommends seeing a doctor to discuss possible treatments and diagnose excessive tearing.