Laughter and Mental Health
There are various scholarly and research articles on the subject of Laughter and Mental Health. Many of the known physiological and psychological benefits are supported by the medical profession and various research studies.
A few links to some interesting articles on the subject of mental health and laughter.
Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. by Yim J. For the full article please visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27439375
In Summary – In modern society, fierce competition and socioeconomic interaction stress the quality of life, causing a negative influence on a person’s mental health. Laughter is a positive sensation, and seems to be a useful and healthy way to overcome stress. Laughter therapy is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapies that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving the quality of life. Laughter therapy, as a non-pharmacological, alternative treatment, has a positive effect on the mental health and the immune system. In addition, laughter therapy does not require specialized preparations, such as suitable facilities and equipment, and it is easily accessible and acceptable. For these reasons, the medical community has taken notice and attempted to include laughter therapy to more traditional therapies. Decreasing stress-making hormones found in the blood, laughter can mitigate the effects of stress. Laughter decreases serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone, and 3,4-dihydrophenylacetic acid (a major dopamine catabolite), indicating a reversal of the stress response. Depression is a disease, where neurotransmitters in the brain, such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, are reduced, and there is something wrong in the mood control circuit of the brain. Laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity. Furthermore, endorphins secreted by laughter can help when people are uncomfortable or in a depressed mood. Laughter therapy is a noninvasive and non-pharmacological alternative treatment for stress and depression, representative cases that have a negative influence on mental health. In conclusion, laughter therapy is effective and scientifically supported as a single or adjuvant therapy.
Laughter and depression: hypothesis of pathogenic and therapeutic correlation. by Fonzi L https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20380236
Laughter is a very common behaviour in everyday life, nevertheless scientific literature is lacking in studies which examine closely its nature. The study aims are: to summarise the present knowledge about laughter and its relation with depression and to make hypotheses on its possible therapeutic function. In the first part of the review the main data existing about encephalic structures involved in laughter genesis, which show participation of cortical and subcortical regions, are reported and the effects of laughter on the organism physiologic equilibrium, particularly on the neuroendocrine and immune systems, are described. In the second part, scientific evidence about the influence of depression on the ability to laugh are referred, which suggests that reduction of laughter frequency is a symptom of the disease and that its increase may be used as a marker of clinical improvement. Finally, the main assumptions supporting the hypothesis of the therapeutic action of laughter on depression are examined: first of all, it has been demonstrated that laughter is able to improve mood directly and to moderate negative consequences of stressful events on psychological well-being; in addition, it is possible that the stimulation of particular cerebral regions, involved in depression pathogenesis, and the normalisation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical system dysfunctions, both mediated by laughter, can counteract efficiently depressive symptoms; finally, the favourable effects of laughter on social relationships and physical health may have a role in influencing the ability of depressed patients to face the disease.