Majority of people find improvement in their mood after 'crying episode', according to a research conducted by University of South Florida psychologists Jonathan Rottenberg and Lauren M Bylsma, along with their colleague Ad J J M Vingerhoets of Tilburg University.
They collected the details of about 3000 recent crying experiences and found that those criers who received social support during their crying episode find solace after they shed their tears.
However, one third of the survey participants reported no improvement in mood and a tenth felt worse after crying. Studies till date have not always produced a clear picture of the benefits of crying , in part because the results often seem to depend on how crying is studied. The researchers note several challenges in accurately studying crying behaviour in a laboratory setting.
Volunteers who cry in a laboratory setting often do not describe their experiences as being cathartic or making them feel better. Criers do show calming effects such as slower breathing, but they also experience a lot of unpleasant stress, including increased heart rate and sweating, the laboratory studies revealed.
People who lack insight into their emotional lives (a condition known as alexithymia) actually feel worse after crying. The authors suggest that for these individuals, their lack of emotional insight may prevent the kind of cognitive change required for a sad experience to be transformed into something positive.
Whether crying gives a cathartic effect or worse effect depends on the individuals.