Psychological Reports in 1990 published a study on the effects humoral laughter has on threat-induced anxiety. 53 college students were led by researchers to believe that they would be shocked with an electric shock after a waiting time.
While waiting for their shock, subjects in the experiment group were able to listen to a humorous tape. The placebo group listened only to a humorous tape. The control group did not listen. The humor group reported lower anxiety during the anticipatory phase, while those with the most sense of humor had the lowest anxiety.
Laughter therapy was also shown to decrease anxiety in Parkinson’s disease patients [PDF], lower anxiety and depression in nursing students, as well as improve optimism, self-esteem, depression, and mood in women in their 40s.
A psychological perspective suggests that keeping a sense if humor and being able to laugh can help people get through tough times.
LAUGHTER ISN’T A BOOSTER.
You might consider practicing laughter therapy at the beginning of the flu season. There have been numerous studies that show the benefits of laughter in improving immunity.
Prank subscription box Researchers tested postpartum mothers’ breast milk for immunoglobulin before and after laughter therapy in a 2015 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Participants were able to engage in group “laughter” dance routines and light breast massages, which inducing laughter twice per week. Participants in laughter therapy experienced a slight rise in their IgA. The researchers found that even a small increase in IgA was significant. This is due to the fact that natural IgA levels in breastmilk decreases after birth.
A study of college students also found that IgA salivary levels increased when they watched funny movies (sIgA). Researchers have also discovered small instances of laughter’s ability increase the body’s natural killer cells, which is a type that can be easily tested for in the blood. Although the study was small, it found significant increases in NK cells activity in the experimental group. It was published in the American Journal of Medical Science. Other studies have shown an increase in NK cell activity following laughter therapy and humorous videos. However, most of these studies were performed on male subjects.
LAUGHTER MIGHT ACT AS AN NATURAL ANTIDEPRESSANT.
Although it is unlikely that laughter would replace other treatments for depression, studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing depressed moods. Long-term patients often experience depression and sleep problems. A Korean Journal of Adult Nursing 2017 study examined the effects of laughter therapy in 42 long-term nursing residents. The results were promising.
The subjects were required to do laughter therapy for forty minutes twice per week for eight sessions. They had to sing funny songs, laugh for diversion and stretch, play with their hands and dance routines. There were also laughing exercises, healthy clapping and laughing aloud.
The experiment group showed a decrease in depression and overall mood improvement, as well as better sleep, when compared to the controls.
In a 2015 study, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that three 60-minute laughter therapy sessions significantly improved depression and mood disorders in cancer patients.