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Psychological Reports published a 1990 study that examined the effects of laughter on anxiety-induced threat. 53 students believed that after a waiting period, they would receive an electric shock.


The experiment group had subjects listen to a funny tape while they waited for their shock. The placebo group heard a non-humorous tape while the control group didn’t listen to any tape. The humor group reported that their anxiety decreased over the anticipatory period. Those with the greatest sense of humor reported the lowest anxiety.


Laughter therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety in Parkinson’s patients [PDF], decrease anxiety and depression among nursing students, improve optimism, self-esteem and depression among menopausal ladies.


In a paper published in Psychiatric Quarterly, Bernard Saper suggests that a person’s ability to keep a sense of humor as well as the ability to laugh can be positive coping mechanisms for navigating difficult times.




It may be a good idea for the start of flu season to engage in laughter therapy. Numerous studies have demonstrated the immune-boosting power of laughter.


One 2015 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined postpartum mothers for immunoglobulin in hand-expressed breastmilk. This was done before and after laughter therapy.


Participants engaged in group “laughter dancing” routines twice a week and received light breast massages to induce laughter. The laughter therapy resulted in a slight increase in IgA for mothers who took part. Researchers found that even a slight increase in IgA was significant, as the postpartum period marks the time when breast milk natural IgA drops. This is because breast milk is the most nutrient-dense and healthiest form of IgA.


A second study was done with college students and found that laughing at funny movies can increase salivary IgA (sIgA). Researchers also discovered that laughter can increase the body’s natural killing cells (NKs) which are easy to detect in blood tests. A small study published in American Journal of Medical Science found that the experimental group had significantly higher NK cell activity than the control group, albeit with only 10 male subjects. Other studies that have found an increase in NK cells activity following laughter therapy or humorous videos have also been done, although most of these studies were conducted on male subjects.




Although laughter therapy is not recommended as a treatment for depression, some studies have shown that it can improve moods. A 2017 Korean Journal of Adult Nursing study looked at the effects of laughter therapy on patients in long-term care facilities. It was found that 42 people in two long-term care hospitals experienced depression and poor sleep. These results were encouraging


The laughter therapy was 40 minutes long and took place twice weekly. It consisted of singing funny songs, dancing, stretching, diversion, playing with hands, dance routines, laughing exercises and healthy clapping.


Results showed that the Prankstersworldwide experiment group had a lower rate of depression, mood improvement, and better sleep than the control group.


A 2015 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that patients with cancer experienced a reduction in depression and lowered moods after three 60-minute sessions of laughter therapy.