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Why Do Some People Cry More Than Others?

posted: 11/03/15
by: Mara Betsch
crying-women
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My mom comes from a family full of criers. She and her sisters all tear up at the first few bars of "God Bless America" for pete's sake. Though, I thought I was safe from this fate, I, too, have noticed that I've been tearing up more and more in my not-so-young age. It made me wonder if some people, through a mix of hormones, genetics, and who knows what else, are more likely to reach for the tissues than others. Here's what we found out.

As you'd expect, there are different types of crying -- there's crying when you're hurt, crying when you're sad, crying when you're moved by something beautiful, etc. -- but they're all usually caused by a buildup of energy or an intense emotion. And, to make things more complicated, what makes one person cry won't necessarily make the person next to them cry. Needless to say, researchers are still trying to figure out why we get weepy.

But here's what science does know: Gender (yes, stereotypically, women are known to cry more than men, about five times a month), previous trauma, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and lack of sleep can all make you more likely to tear up.

Certain personalities are also correlated with crying more frequently. Studies show that those who are neurotic are more likely to cry (which may explain why my family is so easily brought to tears); extroverts are also more likely to cry in negative situations; and those who are empathetic are shown to cry more frequently (seeing someone cry will make these tenderhearted people also tear up). Recent research has also shown that about 20 percent of people are classified as HSPs, or highly sensitive persons, and they process both negative and positive information more thoroughly, which makes them more likely to cry. And, unsurprisingly, frequent crying can also be a sign of depression or mental illness.

But if you're one of those people whose eyes start to well up at the drop of a hat, there's actually a silver lining. Crying can be soothing, may help you relieve stress, and can boost your mood afterward, according to a 2002 study. So go ahead, let it all out -- just be sure you have a few tissues handy.