Crying not as detoxing as it’s cracked up to be – research

Long Lunch 27/11/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

A simple Google search would suggest that crying is quite good for you, boasting health benefits like stress and toxin release.

But one expert says such benefits may not be based on actual science.

“There’s not really a lot of strong evidence to suggest that’s really true,” said Leah Sharman, a PhD candidate from the University of Queensland.

Most people report feeling better after a good cry, says Ms Sharmon, despite underwhelming evidence that tears release any sort of toxin or stress.

Ms Sharmon told RadioLIVE that if crying was as soothing as society cracks it up to be, people would experience a drop in heart rate or slower breathing.

But on the contrary, her research shows that crying often does quite the opposite to the body. The heart rate speeds up when a person cries, along with other “arousal responses” like increased skin conductance.

Crying isn't as soothing as it seems, suggests Leah Sharmon.

“So it seems that it’s making us more aroused and more active rather than trying to calm us down,” she told RadioLIVE.

A study spanning across  27 countries found that men typically cry once a month while women cry a bit more often, with an average of two to three cries a month. But Ms Sharmon rejects the idea that crying frequency is related to biological gender differences, but rather based on societal expectations.

“[Men] kind of embody the idea that crying is weak and they shouldn’t do it,” Ms Sharmon said.

Ms Sharmon suggests that rather than physiologically relieving stress, the act of crying offers a cathartic release for those experiencing pain or stress.

She says ultimately, the benefits of crying comes downs to individual preference and whether a person believes it makes helps them out.

“It’s definitely good for you if you feel that it’s making a difference.”

Listen to the full interview with Leah Sharmon above.

The Long Lunch with Lynda Hallinan, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.