Is laughter really the best medicine? Study says ‘laughter yoga’ eases depression

Laughter yoga, a unique therapy technique, combines yogic breathing exercises with simulated laughter.

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Laughter truly is the best medicine, according to a recent study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy. Researchers at Loma Linda University in California investigated the effectiveness of laughter yoga in reducing symptoms of depression.

Laughter yoga, a unique therapy technique, combines yogic breathing exercises with simulated laughter. The study involved 86 participants diagnosed with mild to moderate depression. They were divided into two groups: one received traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a well-established treatment for depression, while the other participated in weekly laughter yoga sessions for two months.

The results were promising. The laughter yoga group showed a significant reduction in depression scores compared to the CBT group. This improvement was sustained even at a three-month follow-up, suggesting laughter yoga's potential for long-term benefits.

"Our study adds to the growing evidence that laughter interventions can be a valuable tool for managing depression," said lead author Dr. Lee Berk, a professor at Loma Linda University and a pioneer in the field of laughter therapy. "Laughter yoga is a fun, accessible approach that can be easily integrated into daily life."

Depression is a major global health concern, affecting an estimated 264 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

While the exact mechanisms remain under investigation, laughter is thought to influence the body's stress response and mood regulation. Laughter may decrease stress hormones like cortisol and boost the production of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.

So next time you're feeling down, why not give laughter yoga a try? It might just be the mood-booster you need. You can find laughter yoga classes offered at community centers, yoga studios, and even online!