Why do we cry?
Pediatric consultation. Mothers from different professions and lifestyles take their children and babies to the specialist. All of them have one thing in common: children crying with intensity. It could be hunger, cold, fear or pain, but they all have the same behavior. First-time moms act alarmed and despaired, while the experienced ones already have a consolidated idea in their subconscious: in the absence of oral language, children cry to ask for the care and attention they require from adults. A mechanism that guarantees their survival. Something that already was analyzed by Darwin in his famous Theory of Evolution.
Crying is a human exclusive action related to a neural connection between areas of the brain linked to emotions and the lacrimal gland. In adults, it is a mechanism for adapting to complex functions that combine physiological, psychological and, especially, social episodes. Biologically, tears work to lubricate the eye and protect it from external agents; they are directly linked to strong negative emotional stimulus such as sadness or frustration, but also to positive feelings such as joy or surprise. Therefore, some researchers suggest that through crying some hyperactivity is released, which helps to establish a balance that reduces stress. Although, it is true that this statement is not generalizable because there are many people who get emotional worse after crying.
However, recent studies have shown that tears are different depending on the agent that motivates the crying. In this way, the tears we secrete when peeling an onion are chemically different from those we generate as a consequence of a strong emotional tension. The second ones are called "emotional tears”, they mainly contain water, lipids, and other substances and differ from the others because the higher amounts of hormones they have, which are usually associated with stress, e.g., prolactin, adrenocorticotropa and leucine enkephalins. An approach that have been led by the biochemist from the University of Minnesota William H. Frey. The specialist argues that people feel better after crying because the tears shed contain adrenocorticotropic, a hormone associated with stress, and this, related with the fact that during crying increases mucus secretion, could support the theory that crying is a mechanism developed to dispose of this hormone when the level of stress is very high.
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