So How’s Your Fault In Our Stars Cry-Hangover?

Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that takes them on an unforgettable journey.
Photo: James Bridges/Twentieth Century Fox

I woke up this morning feeling and looking terrible, with puffy eyes, a splotchy face, and a headache. It looks like I’m either sick or have allergies or went on some ridiculous weeknight bender, when, actually, all I did was cry for two solid hours watching the feels-fest that is The Fault in Our Stars. 

An emotional hangover is one thing, but why is it that you often feel so physically awful the morning after a crying jag? I wanted to know more about my cry-hangover, and so I contacted Dr. Rachel Vreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and co-author of two books on health myths.

Here’s what Vreeman had to say:

The biggest symptom that many people notice as part of the “crying hangover” are swollen, puffy eyes. There are a few reasons why your eyes may look terrible after you have been crying hard. Many experts say that all of the sodium (salt) in your tears is responsible for both the fluid retention and the irritation that leads to this swelling. It is also possible that the increased pressure exerted by both your tear ducts, your rubbing or wiping of your eyes, and your forceful crying could make your eyes puffy and irritated. All of the salty tears and eye rubbing may also leave your eyes feeling dry the next day.

We also create a lot of mucous when we cry — snot, tears, and generally blubbering. All of this mucous could leave you feeling congested or having a headache. Plus, the muscle strain we exert when we cry can be enough to cause a tension headache.

Added to your puffy eyes, swollen nose, and overproduction of mucous may be your exhaustion.  When we are very sad or when we have gone through a lot of emotional exertion, it wears out our entire body. … The brain and body are closely linked, and when the brain is overwhelmed and sad, it often makes you very tired. 

Vreeman did not address whether there’s a hair-of-the-dog-type remedy for nursing a cry-hangover, and so to investigate this, I’ll just be over here keeping the party going with YouTube clips of the “He can’t see without his glasses!” scene from My Girl and the first few minutes of Up.