Eli5 Why do we stop crying?


We cry when we feel pain. It’s not like the pain ends or the wound heals by the time we’re done, so what stops us? Do we run out of tears or something, because I notice there’s a cooldown where we can’t produce tears again right away (without forcing it.)

What is the science behind this phenomenon?

In: 23



I heard about [a study](https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699931.2017.1301388) on an episode of Radiolab that said crying is a way humans say to each other “I need to stop!” You cry when you’re overcome with pain or emotion, and you need to stop and sort it out. Out on the savanna where humans evolved, we couldn’t stop forever if we were hurt. We cry long enough to get the attention of other people in the area, but we have to stop or whatever is causing the hurt might come back and hurt us some more.

In part, [crying is a self-soothing behavior](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4035568/). Your body releases endorphins and oxytocin during crying, but your body does not produce an infinite supply of these compounds and the effect they have wears off. Another component to crying from pain is social signaling, and to some degree, the benefit is reduced over time, as others are made aware of the situation (they can’t be made aware *again*). The research I linked shows that social signaling plays a part in both the start and duration of crying.