Many people who struggle with depression or stress may be able to lower their struggling levels by just getting a good laugh, according to a collection of studies gathered by Caroline Kaercher Kramer and Cristine Bauermann Leitao.
The over 3,000 studies were filtered down to just eight unbiased random control trials to focus on changes in cortisol levels after laughter is administered to a patient. These results were compared in a control group that experienced no laugh therapy. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that helps the body cope with stress. Changes in cortisol levels can affect one’s mood, memory and metabolism.
“I feel like not laughing can affect your brain so much that it can end up affecting your body,” said Anna Dinh, a freshman at the University of Memphis.
The studies showed that laughter from just watching a humorous comedy or video significantly reduced the experimented groups’ cortisol levels by 31.9%. Which could mean that each experimented person’s body was relieved of stress and were given a lighter mood.
The studies also reported that a reduction of 36.7% in cortisol occurred from just one laughter session with a laughter therapist. So, if one were to never laugh who knows how much stress would be built up inside of their body, and if they still would be able to live.
Many feel laughter is essential to the body, as well as other emotions or effects of emotion.
“Yeah, I think it’s definitely essential. I think all emotions are essential, like crying,” said Tylan Leavells, a freshman at the University of Memphis.
“It’s essential for a good life,” said Dorian Howard, a student at the University of Memphis. “All that stress would probably build up.”
Others aren’t so sure that laughter is essential for our bodies.
“I wouldn’t say you wouldn’t be alive, because it’s some people out here who just live miserably. I’m not saying that’s the way to live, but there’s people that live that way,” said Mason Anderson, a student at the University of Memphis.
However, he did say that he personally wouldn’t be able to live without laughter. “But, from my perspective, I don’t think I would probably be alive.”
Laughter clearly has effects on one’s mental and physical body, and with the stresses of normal life and the unexpected battles, a good laugh could most likely give someone a push to keep going in life.
“It brings the good vibes,” said Kendrick Abernathy, a student at the University of Memphis. “You could be having the worst day ever but I think it helps motivate you to keep going.”
Watching a funny movie, video or just spending fun quality time with others may be just a temporary fix, and it may be that laughter is not essential. However, one cannot knock the major changes joyous laughter can make in someone’s life.
“It makes you happy,” said Janet Tuggle, a worker at the University of Memphis. “It triggers something in you that makes your day a whole lot better.”