Guest Writer Feature: Why Do People Cry? by Gian Carlo D. Camacho

In this entry, our guest writer is MindMover intern Gian Camacho, a BS Development Communication student from the University of the Philippines - Los Ba├▒os.

Have you ever wondered why tears run down from your eyes? Whether it's from emotional stress, a sad movie, or slicing an onion, your eyes respond with tears. In other words, you cry.

                                                            [Photo credit:]

So why does this happen?

Tears are produced from the lacrimal gland located between the eyeball and the eyelid. It is spread out to your eyes as you blink and gets drained through the lacrimal punctum. It could also pass through your nose, which is why you sometimes get a runny nose when you cry.

If you produce too much, your eyes' drainage system won't be able to handle it. It causes your tears to flow out down your face, eventually ruining your makeup.

As you may know, you usually cry when you're emotional. However, not all tears happen when you are emotional. There are three types of tears. One type is the basal tears that constantly lubricate your eyes to protect and prevent them from drying out.

The second type is the reflex tears, which protect your eyes from irritants such as smoke and dust. It is the type of tear you produce when you slice an onion.

When you slice an onion, a gas called Propanethiol S-oxide is released. It creates sulfur gas as it mixes with some enzymes, which then irritate your eyes.

                                                 [Photo credit: Thinkstock photos/Getty Images]

The third type is the emotional tears caused by sadness or extreme happiness. When you are sad or emotional, your brain triggers the release of hormones by the endocrine glands to your eyes, producing a lot of tears.

You then begin to cry. Emotional tears are usually caused by a sad experience, the death of your favorite movie character, an emotional break-up, or personal losses.

Studies have shown that reflex and emotional tears have different contents. Reflex tears are mostly water, while emotional tears have several chemicals such as prolactin, which is related to the production of breast milk among women.

Adrenocorticotropic hormones are usually present during high levels of stress. Another chemical found is leucine-enkephalin, which is known to reduce pain. Some say that crying actually makes you feel better, but limited studies have been conducted for us to make conclusions.

This fun video may also explain it:

Why do we cry? The three types of tears - Alex Gendler


1. Borreli, L. (May 1, 2015). Why do we cry? The three different types of tears and their physiology. Retrieved July 20, 2015 from

2. Hoyt, A. (2008). How crying works. Retrieved July 20, 2015 from

3. Why do we cry when we chop onions. Science Bob. Retrieved July 20, 2015 from

No comments:

Post a Comment