The first scientific study (randomized controlled trial) to provide evidence for the efficacy of Laughter Yoga in mental disorders was published this month in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Findings showed that Laughter Yoga matched the efficacy of exercise therapy and even proved superior in improving life satisfaction.

To our knowledge, up to now there were only two articles in which health outcomes of Laughter Yoga were assessed on healthy individuals (Beckman 2007 and Nagendra 2007). Therefore, this one by Shahidi et al is the first one conducted on “patients”; particularly in the treatment of mental illness (late life depression). Much remains to be done and this is a very encouraging step forward in the field of evidence-based research on Laughter Yoga.

Laughter Yoga versus group exercise program in elderly depressed women: a randomized controlled trial

Background: Laughter Yoga founded by M. Kataria is a combination of unconditioned laughter and yogic breathing. Its effect on mental and physical aspects of healthy individuals was shown to be beneficial. Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of Kataria’s Laughter Yoga and group exercise therapy in decreasing depression and increasing life satisfaction in older adult women of a cultural community of Tehran, Iran.
Methods: Seventy depressed old women who were members of a cultural community of Tehran were chosen by Geriatric depression scale (score>10). After completion of Life Satisfaction Scale pre-test and demographic questionnaire, subjects were randomized into three groups of laughter therapy, exercise therapy, and control. Subsequently, depression post-test and life satisfaction post-test were done for all three groups. The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance and Bonferroni’s correction.
Results: Sixty subjects completed the study. The analysis revealed a significant difference in decrease in depression scores of both Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy group in comparison to control group ( p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). There was no significant difference between Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy groups. The increase in life satisfaction of Laughter Yoga group showed a significant difference in comparison with control group ( p<0.001). No significant difference was found between exercise therapy and either control or Laughter Yoga group.
Conclusion: Our findings showed that Laughter Yoga is at least as effective as group exercise program in improvement of depression and life satisfaction of elderly depressed women. Copyright # 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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