How to Have a Good Cry—and Recognize a Bad One

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
February 24, 2023

Our eyes can tear up for many reasons: to lubricate the eye or flush out dust, for example. But typically, when we talk about crying, we’re referring to the emotional response to experiences such as pain, grief, or overwhelming happiness. While some well intentioned people might tell you “Don’t cry,” crying may be healthy for you in a variety of ways.

Here’s what to know about crying—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Letting It Out May Improve Your Well-Being

Not crying when you need to may actually be a health issue. “Chronically suppressing tears—or any emotion for that matter—can be detrimental to one’s health and well‑being,” says Lauren Bylsma, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Some research has suggested that those who are more inclined to tamp down or ignore their emotions (or their urge to get teary) may have increased rates of high blood pressure, cancer, and other health issues.