Posts tagged with "Crying"

Read this and weep: Crying may help to regulate breathing

August 13, 2019

Most of us feel better after a “good cry”—and it turns out, there may be a medical reason for that. Crying may aid in the regulation of breathing during stressful situations, according to findings of a study conducted at the University of Queensland in Australia, reported by PsyPost.

The study sought to better understand the functions of human crying — and whether crying had any physiologically soothing effects.

“We became interested in this topic when trying to understand the different possible ways [in which] crying might function to help us, and to try to get a different perspective on why crying is so widely associated with feeling better,” explained study author Leah Sharman, a Ph.D. student in the Psychology department of the university.

Indeed, she said, “… Crying is often thought [to drain us of] toxins or [to bring] about some kind of biological change that helps us to deal with stressful or painful situations. So we thought it would be interesting to try to test that.”

For the study, 197 female undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either watch sad or emotionally neutral videos for about 17 minutes. About half of the participants who watched the sad videos began crying. The participants then underwent the Cold Pressor Stress Test, in which they placed their hand in nearly freezing cold water.

During the experiment, the participants’ heart and respiration activity were monitored. They also provided saliva samples so that the researchers could measure their cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

Contrary to expectations, participants who cried were not able to cope with the Cold Pressor Stress Test for a significantly longer period of time than those who didn’t. There also was no significant difference observed in cortisol levels between those who cried and those who did not.

However, the researchers did find some evidence that participants who cried were more capable of regulating their breathing.

Based on the test results, Sharman said, “Crying doesn’t seem to provide any change to [the level of our] stress hormones—or [to] our ability to cope with physical stressors to a degree that might be meaningful if you hurt yourself.

However, i “Crying seems to assist in keeping our body stable and calm by slowing down and regulating our breathing and our heart rate,” Sharman told PsyPost.

Like all research, the study includes some limitations: “The major caveat with this research is that we don’t know if these reactions are typical in real-world settings where you might be crying because of grief or loss, for example, or if there are differences if someone else is present with you when you cry,” Sharman said.

“It’s also important to note that, because of the nature of this research, we can’t force people to cry, so it’s also possible that there might be something different about people who are more likely to cry, especially in a laboratory setting, that makes them more likely to respond in this way.

“Crying can be just as harmful as it is perceived helpful. In many situations people also believe that crying makes them feel judged, embarrassed, and ashamed. So if you believe [hat crying] makes you feel worse, these physiological changes are probably not going to make you feel better overall,” Sharman added.

The study, Using Crying to Cope: Physiological Responses to Stress Following Tears of Sadness, was recently published in the journal, Emotion.

Research contact: @PsyPost

Read this and weep: Crying at least once a week is good for you

December 26, 2018

It’s counter-intuitive, but crying at least once a week may be the key to a happier life—free from tension headaches and agitation.

In fact, one Japanese academic claims that the most beneficial way to relieve stress is to shed some tears—either happy or sad— the UK’s Independent newspaper reports.

Since 2014, former high school teacher Hidefumi Yoshida, 43—who calls himself a “Namida sensei” (“tears teacher”)—has teamed up with Hideho Arita, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Toho University in Tokyo, to launch a series of lectures nationwide in Japan aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of crying.

Yoshida says that he came to recognize the benefits of a good cry after one of his former students stopped showing up for consultations after the pupil had opened up and shed tears.

 “The act of crying is more effective than laughing or sleeping in reducing stress,” says Yoshida, adding, “If you cry once a week, you can live a stress-free life.”

Yoshida explains that listening to emotive music, watching sad films, and reading tragic books—and in the process shedding some tears— can offer huge benefits to your mental health by stimulating parasympathetic nerve activity, which slows the heart rate and can have a soothing effect on the mind.

And Yoshida isn’t the first person to tout the soothing effects of crying, the Independent notes.

In 1982, The New York Times reported on the study, entitled “Tear Expert”  and conducted by Dr. William Frey—who claimed that crying releases endorphins, subsequently promoting feelings of happiness and well-being.

Frey—director of the Psychiatry Research Laboratories at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota and a self-appointed student of ”psychogenic lacrimation,” as he calls emotionally induced tears—believes that tears help to relieve stress by ridding the body of potentially harmful stress-induced chemicals.

Another study, conducted in 2008 by researchers at the University of South Florida and the University of Tilburg among a cohort of 3,000 people found that crying made people feel much better in difficult situations, leading the authors to suggest that inducing tears should be used as a cathartic form of therapy.

So get those tissues and hankies out and put them to use. A good cry may be just what the doctor ordered.

Research contact: @Oliviapetter1

Maddow breaks down on-air over plight of immigrant babies

June 21, 2018

MSNBC’s star moderator Rachel Maddow dissolved in tears at the end of her show on June 19 when trying to read breaking news from the Associated Press about the whereabouts of babies separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border under President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. She handed the program off to Lawrence O’Donnell, host of The Last Word, who was on-site at a Border Patrol Processing Center for children in McAllen, Texas, Mediaite reports.

The AP story read, in part:

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley [Texas] shelters described playrooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.

Since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in early May, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in a new influx of young children requiring government care. The government has faced withering critiques over images of some of the children in cages inside U.S. Border Patrol processing stations.

When Maddow could not read the script, she asked for a graphic to be shown on the screen instead. When that was unavailable, she said, tears flowing, “I think I’m going to have to hand this off. I’m sorry.”

O’Donnell did succeed in reading the full story on-air.

Later, Maddow apologized on Twitter:  “Ugh, I’m sorry. If nothing else, it is my job to actually be able to speak while I’m on TV,” she wrote. Then, after concluding what she was trying to say, she added: “Again, I apologize for losing it there for a moment. Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile.”

Since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in early May, AP notes, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in an influx of young children requiring government care.

Research contact: @garanceburke