trick your brain
Can You Trick Your Brain Out of Depression?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people around the world suffer from depression. Depression is a serious mental health condition that can lead to other issues if it goes untreated. While depression isn’t a curable disorder, there are a variety of effective ways to manage symptoms and keep the disorder at bay.

However, only a small percentage of people who have depression actually seek professional treatment. Sometimes there are cost and accessibility barriers, which make people feel like they have to live with their symptoms. In reality, clinical treatments aren’t the only way to improve depressive symptoms.

Recently, author John Moe released a new book called The Hilarious World of Depression, based on his popular podcast. The new book and podcast focus on healing depression through laughter, featuring interviews with well-known comedians and celebrities who have dealt with depression, and learned to laugh along the way.

Although The Hilarious World of Depression isn’t a replacement for clinical depression treatment, it shows that something as simple as laughter can make depressed people feel more hopeful and optimistic. Additionally, the socialization aspect of conversing with another person can limit feelings of isolation, and improve overall happiness.

Is Laughter the Best Medicine for Depression?

Ultimately, there’s no way to effectively trick your brain out of being depressed. However, there are ways to reduce depressive symptoms that don’t involve strict clinical approaches—laughter being one of them. Multiple studies have determined that laughter, and even smiling, can make you feel happier and improve your health. 

Laughter has a myriad of benefits. When you laugh, your brain releases feel-good endorphins which boost overall wellbeing and can dull pain. It also decreases stress hormones and reduces physical tension, which can make you feel more relaxed. Laughter has even been shown to reduce common symptoms of anxiety and simultaneously increase energy. 

You don’t have to have a great sense of humor to benefit from laughter. In addition to the physical and mental benefits of laughter, one of the reasons why laughter is so powerful in reducing depressive symptoms is because it happens when you socialize with another person. For people with depression, building relationships and engaging with others is vital to recovery.

To reap the benefits of laughter, get together with a close friend, and have a lighthearted conversation. It’s only a matter of time before you start laughing about something mutually funny. If you’re alone, turn on a funny movie or TV show that always makes you smile. Many people enjoy watching funny videos on YouTube or stand-up comedy segments.

If exercise is part of your depression treatment, consider trying laughter yoga. Laughter yoga is exactly what it sounds like. A group of people get together to practice yoga and are encouraged to laugh on command about something ordinary. These first laughs are usually forced. But after a while, everyone in the class will begin to naturally laugh with each other over the somewhat bizarre but incredibly therapeutic shared experience.

Balancing Lighthearted and Serious Conversations About Depression 

Depression is a serious disorder, and it shouldn’t be downplayed. However, having lighthearted conversations about depression can reduce some of the negativity and stigma around the disorder. Not being afraid to laugh about depression can actually be a good thing, and it can positively impact people in recovery.

Usually, depression is discussed in a very clinical and solemn way. It makes sense why—people who are suffering from depression are often feeling down, sad, and hopeless. It’s difficult for them to think positively or find joy in their daily lives. Many people who have depression struggle to laugh or engage in humor at all.

In reality, there’s no reason to not have lightheaded discussions about depression. In fact, it can make you feel better. Having lighter conversations with your therapist or family members about the way you’re feeling is a good thing. Laughing about depression doesn’t make the disorder any less serious or significant. Being able to laugh about your depression also doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly cured.

If you’re suffering from depression, own your disorder. If you want to laugh about it, go ahead and laugh. Find a therapist who can use humor in your sessions and take a less critical approach to your case. Engage in humor in your everyday life as a way to reduce stress and make yourself feel better, especially on hard days.

With that being said, it’s important to find an appropriate balance between lighthearted conversations and more serious discussions about your depression. Depression will always be a clinical disorder that needs to be treated in order for the person to heal. Laughter alone will not completely resolve any case of depression. 

If you’re taking a lighthearted approach to your depression treatment, your therapist will want to know how you’re feeling on a more serious note. They’ll want to know about your bad days without simply “laughing it off.” They’ll ask you to discuss the experiences, situations and people in your life that might be triggering your depression symptoms.

It’s important to take a serious approach to those types of discussions because it will allow your therapist to accurately evaluate your case and help you find ways to manage your specific symptoms. Laughter definitely does have a place in depression treatment, but make sure you understand when to be serious, and when to smile about it.

 TMS Treatment for Depression

If you’re struggling with depression—especially depression that hasn’t responded well to treatment—consider TMS therapy. TMS, which stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation, involves using electromagnetic waves to stimulate areas of the brain that are less active in people with depression. It’s a fast, non-invasive treatment that has no downtime. In just six weeks of treatment, many people report that their depressive symptoms are almost gone.

To learn more about TMS services at Pulse, contact us at (310) 846-8460.

Article By: Chris Howard
Director of Community Outreach & Education Chris Howard has been working in the mental health field since 2010 after seeing the long-term effects of mental illness within his own family. He is a graduate of UCLA where he received his B.A. in Psychology. Having worked closely with those struggling with addiction, Chris considers the concept of community to be an essential part of treatment and advocates for wellness approaches that integrate both leading conventional therapies, as well as holistic practices like yoga and meditation.