I've never given much thought to tears (aside, that is, from thinking it's pretty cool that my eyes change color when I cry) but UCLA psychiatrist Judith Orloff, MD, certainly has. In a Huffington Post column today, she discusses the health benefits of emotional tears and highlights studies showing that crying releases stress hormones and stimulates the production of feel-good endorphins.
Orloff gives some fun facts about tears (did you know that elephants and gorillas may also shed emotional tears?) and calls them "a sign of courage, strength and authenticity." And she says she's been a huge proponent of crying for years:
In fact, during my psychiatric residency at UCLA when supervisors and I watched videos of me with patients, they'd point out that I'd smile when a patient cried. "That's inappropriate," they'd say. I disagreed then; I still do. I wasn't smiling because my patients were depressed or grieving. I was smiling because they were courageously healing depression or other difficult emotions with tears. I was happy for their breakthrough.
Photo by Megyarsh