Feeling gloomy? Shed a few tears, wait 90 minutes, and you'll probably be in a better mood. That's the word from researchers involved in a new study out of the Netherlands that suggests crying actually boosts a person's mood, but not immediately.
Scientists asked 60 participants how they felt before watching two tearjerker films — "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" and "Life Is Beautiful" ("La Vita è Bella") — then asked the same question immediately after the credits rolled, as well as 20 and 90 minutes later. The moods of the 32 participants who didn't cry during the films remained constant. But an interesting thing happened among the 28 who did shed tears: Their mood took a dip after the film, returned to the level reported before the screening after 20 minutes, then climbed higher after 90 minutes, according to a press release.
The act of emotional crying is actually somewhat of a mystery. Some scientists say it's a call for support, comfort or help, while others say it relieves emotions. Studies focusing on the latter theory have turned up conflicting results that say crying can both better a person's mood or decrease it.
This latest study may offer an explanation. "After the initial deterioration of mood following crying that is usually observed in laboratory studies, it takes some time for the mood not just to recover, but also to increase above the levels that it had before the emotional event, a pattern of findings which corresponds to the results of retrospective studies," the lead author says, per the Telegraph. Criers may feel better because crying releases toxins, which may reduce stress, and endorphins, a natural pain killer, reports Medical Daily.
(In related news, some people feel the urge to cry in this strange locale.)