“Comedy is defiance. It’s a snort of contempt in the face of fear and anxiety. And it’s the laughter that allows hope to creep back on the inhale.” Will Durst
There are many treatment modalities currently in use around the country that somehow deal with trauma and its consequences. The question is: how can laughter be therapeutic in treating PTSD?
In this column over the next few weeks, various PTSD treatment modalities will be discussed. Today, it’s all about using laughter in a therapeutic manner. Does it work? How?
What occurs inside the body during laughter and how does laughter help in dealing with trauma?
What we do know about laughter is that it is more than just making a bunch of sounds when something strikes your funny bone. No, the whole body is engaged in laughter. In fact, there are fifteen different muscles in the face alone that are full participants while laughing! Often times people comment that their ‘cheeks’ are sore from laughing/smiling too much – and that’s why.
Have you ever been doubled over in laughter and found it a bit difficult to breathe? And what about hiccups? Well, that’s because while you are laughing your respiratory system joins in on the fun, too! Your epiglottis is vibrating, half-closing over your larynx, making it more difficult to breathe. As the air that you breathe ebbs and flows, the strength of your laughter will follow suit. Meanwhile, if the struggle for air is strong enough, then the tear ducts jump in on the act!
Simply put, laughter sets off a chain reaction throughout the body that promotes physical and psychological health. Regular and frequent guffawing can both prevent illness and help you get well. Laughter lowers your body’s hormone and cortisol levels. (Cortisol is a stress-induced chemical that can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and excess belly fat.) Laughter also strengthens your immune system because it increases the production of antibodies in your saliva and in your bloodstream to stave off bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Finally, the force of the laughter causes the muscles to contract throughout your body – in your diaphragm, back and limbs.
We know that laughter and a sense of humor has positive consequences on mental health. Laughter provides relief and can decrease stress.
Although the scientific community knows the facts on the benefits of laughter in dealing with depression, they also know that PTSD is vastly different and more intense than depression – and that laughter is NOT the solitary cure.
Laughter therapy in combination with intensive trauma therapy for PTSD is almost always fruitful.
Knowing that laughter HELPS in the treatment of PTSD is good news!
One sure way to laugh yourself into a new mood and out of a depression is to find a place to go where the laughs are frequent and low cost!
This weekend in Grand Rapids that just happens to be the River City Improv show on Saturday night at the Ladies Literary Club at 61 Sheldon Blvd SE.
These are some of the funniest folks around and your face will be sore as well as your spirits lifted! Tickets are $10 at the door.
Resources & Information on laughter as a form of therapy: