Multiple Sclerosis Humorist Uses Laughter to Cope
We've all heard the old saying that laughter is the best medicine. But what if it were true? One multiple sclerosis patient, Yvonne DeSousa, claims that humor and laughter are some of the best ways to deal with multiple sclerosis and its debilitating symptoms.
DeSousa planned to help other MS patients incorporate humor into their daily lives by giving tips through a web seminar on GeneFo. The seminar took place on September 27th, 2017 at 1 PM EST. Anyone interested in watching the web seminar through a free video recording can sign up here.
Many people probably read her claim with a great deal of skepticism. However, scientists have been frequently studying how the progression and symptoms of a particular disease may be related to one’s emotional balance. How is physical health affected by emotions, and how can negative emotions and symptoms of a given disease be relieved by laughter? Many devastating cognitive and emotional changes often accompany MS. Its initial diagnosis can take a large toll on patients; many experience shock, fear, or anger. This can affect the patient’s mood, although this doesn’t usually last long. Living with this disease can lead to undesirable emotional effects on an individual, which can be long-term and thus negatively impact one’s mental state. Their lifestyle completely changes and, since it is a chronic disease, they have to deal with it for the rest of their lives, which can induce feelings of grief.
Especially in newer patients, there is a lot of unpredictability with MS, which can cause increased feelings of anxiety. Patients often have doubts as to whether their relationships will be affected, whether they will be able to live a normal life, and if the disease will get worse. This ultimately affects their mental health and ends up straining their relationships.
MS patients may feel it is unfair and cruel. They may hurt others because they are angry at having to deal with a debilitating disease. However, this anger can be used to beat the disease by channeling it towards eating healthier or doing exercises, for example. In MS patients, sleep deprivation is especially damaging and can lead to a weakened immune system. Anger triggers the fight-or-flight response, which produces certain hormones and can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, and even stroke. Anxiety and anger release stress hormones that can affect one’s physical health. The patient can get rid of these negative emotions by expressing them in a positive way.
Stress tends to build up in MS patients, and this can affect the disease, its treatment, and the people around the individual. The biggest impact of stress is often seen on the immune system. Studies have shown that MS symptoms can become worse or even relapse without improvement due to stress.
Laughter can reduce depression, anxiety, anger, grief, and guilt, as well as improve one’s health. It can eliminate negative emotions and improve overall mood. The flow of oxygen increases due to laughter, and it can also boost the immune system by releasing endorphins and dopamine. This can prevent the worsening of symptoms and slow down the disease’s progression. It can even improve energy levels, strengthen the cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure, and reduce overall stress. According to scientific research, laughter is all about relieving tension and increasing the flow of oxygen; it’s not just about happiness. So, targeted laughter therapy is highly recommended for MS patients. To boost the immune system, laughter yoga can be done, which combines meditation, deep breathing, and controlled laughter. Thus, the symptoms associated with MS can be relieved, and one’s physical health can greatly improve through controlled laughter, which has been proven to reduce the progression and severity of the disease.