By Lynn Santa Lucia
When you don’t have your laughter, you’ve lost your soul,” says Tanaz B., 57, of Indiana.
Tanaz lived with severe depression, in and out of hospitals for a decade, until “laughter became my mission,” she says. Now she not only makes it a point to laugh regularly, she teaches others how to do the same—and this is no joke—as a certified Laughter Yoga teacher and ambassador.
It turns out there’s some truth to the old saying that laughter is the best medicine—or at least a pretty good one. Tanaz’s psychiatrist, Suhayl J. Nasr, MD, has come to see laughter as a powerful coping mechanism and possibly a natural antidote for stress and severe depression.
“The therapeutic action of laughter on depression is striking,” says Nasr, medical director of Memorial Hospital’s psychiatric center. “[Talk] therapy does help a lot, but laughter has an interesting way of changing brain chemistry.”
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