Although crying is often tied to an emotionally difficult event, there are actually physical, psychological, and social benefits of crying.
“Crying can help one better manage their emotional stress and strengthen relationships as a result of a healthy, safe response to negative outcomes or situations,” says Michael Chen, M.D., a doctor and district medical director at One Medical. “Crying can help one’s mood by improving sleep, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the immune system.”
Furthermore, research has shown that crying releases specific hormones in the body, such as oxytocin and endorphins, which help relieve physical and psychological pain while reducing other stress-related hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
“The first thing an infant does when entering the world is cry, and it’s a good thing,” Mary Joye, LMHC, tells mbg. “Babies have this innate reflex for assurance that someone will take care of their immediate needs. They have no vocabulary other than crying, and if no one comes, they can develop learned helplessness.”
According to Joye, it may sound like the baby is self-soothing when they stop crying, but they may be giving up hope. This is one of several main reasons the inability to cry may carry into adulthood and cause emotional distress.
“We tend to find that holding back one’s emotions and restricting the ability to cry can lead to negative outcomes such as chronic depression, anxiety, and difficult relationships,” Chen adds.