Sometimes you might feel like you need a good cry after a fight with your spouse or a particularly difficult day at work. However, as opposed to infants, who cry in response to physical needs, such as they’re hungry, sleepy, or in need of a dry diaper—adults tend to cry in response to intense emotions.
Science is finally uncovering some of the mystery behind grown ups shedding tears…
1. We Cry Different Types of Tears
You might cry during a sad movie (any movie about animals turns me into a total sop), out of pure frustration, or when you read your wedding vows, but did you know that tears shed from anger, joy, and sadness differ from tears shed when you encounter brisk wind or chop an onion?
Clinical psychologist researchers at Tilburg University, in The Netherlands, break tears down into 3 distinct types. First and foremost, emotional tears (or lacrimal tears) are feeling-based and are spilled due to intense feelings of sadness, loss, laughter, pride, empathy, or joy by the lacrimal glands or tear ducts. Basal tears, or eye lubricating tears are shed to guard against irritations (there’s that onion again), triggered as a protective mechanism by glands under the eyelids.