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Have You Had A Good Cry Lately?

By Jack Zavada

A "good" cry--the kind that can make you feel better--as opposed to the kind you have when peeling onions--is one of your body's most important defense mechanism, it seems.

That's because tears shed due to emotional upset or stress contain chemicals that your body builds up during nervous tension. According to Dr. William H. Frey II, a researcher at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota, emotionally-induced tears contain protein-based hormones as well as leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller.

Frey and his team concluded that when a person is under stress, his or her body needs to get rid of those chemicals through crying. In most cultures, women are readily forgiven for crying, but men are often expected be stoic and bottle up emotional outbursts. Some scientists think men have more stress-related illness because they resist crying.

Psychologists have long said that crying is a natural part of the grief process and can speed up a person's recovery. Whether the cause of the upset is the death of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship, the loss of a job or some other traumatic event, a person often feels better after they cry and is more prone to move on with their life. In one of the most poignant scenes in the Bible, we're told that even Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead a few minutes later.

Except at funerals and in hospitals, crying often produces an awkward reaction in the other people present. Maybe if they knew the person crying is just getting rid of some harmful chemicals, they'd be more sympathetic.

About The Author

Jack Zavada is the author of four novels and over 5,000 magazine and newspaper articles. His web site is


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