No Laughing Matter, But Remedy for Depression

Published: 15th December 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th December 2014 11:16 PM   |  A+A-

Charles Bukowski wrote, “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” The link between laughter and a life lived heartily is all too obvious. An earlier study by Oxford University had found that pain thresholds become “significantly higher” after laughter, compared to the control condition, and saw this as being due to laughter itself and not one’s mood. It also found that laughter produced an “endorphin-mediated opiate effect” that could “play a crucial role in social bonding”. A proof-of-concept trial has now shown that nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has great potential as an effective remedy for severe depression in patients who don’t respond to therapies.

The study, which was conducted at Washington University in St Louis, is the first to look at the effects of laughing gas on depressed patients, a surprising delay if we recall the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” However, it is most welcome, given that a third of all clinically depressed people suffer from treatment-resistant depression. It seems to be a quick-acting intervention, and with a few side-effects, the most common being nausea and vomiting. The researchers are planning to carry out more thorough investigations, along with tests of various concentrations of laughing gas to determine how each influences depression.

Among the proven health benefits of laughter are reductions in stress hormones and raising the number of antibody-producing cells leading to stronger immune system. Closer home, practitioners of hasyayoga (laughter yoga) have for long held laughter as supreme, practising voluntary laughter to provide the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. No wonder, thousands of laughter clubs have come up across India in recent years even as incidence of suicides, especially in the southern and eastern regions, has grown. If it takes laughing gas to shed all inhibitions and gloom, so be it.

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp