This is why your laughter may be considered inappropriate

Although not medically diagnosed, inappropriate laughter could have some underlying mental health causes.

Have you ever caught yourself laughing in a situation which did not warrant laughter? Or maybe you become uncomfortable when someone you know does that. Well, there are some valid reasons why this happens—most of them beyond your control—but you learn to control it.

Why are you laughing?

A person who laughs inappropriately laughs when they do not want to, in a situation in which laughter is unexpected or frowned upon.

Some people who do this may not realise their outbursts are inappropriate. There’s no universal way of determining when it is inappropriate to laugh as it is based on many cultural, societal and personal factors.

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Causes

  • People who have anxiety disorder, may laugh at inappropriate times. They may laugh not out of humour, but because of anxiety or contempt. Some people laugh nervously to relieve tension in situations that are out of place. A study conducted in 2020 found that nervous laughter is a common response that may help explain all humorous laughter.
  • Inappropriate laughter can also be due to neurological disorders such as pseudobulbar affect. This condition makes it difficult for people to control when they laugh or cry. The common conditions that could trigger this disorder include dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and brain injury.
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People suffering from schizophrenia may laugh inappropriately due to hallucinations. Getty/ VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
  • People on the autism spectrum disorder could also engage in uncontrollable laughter. A recent study points to parents of autistic children reporting the display of inappropriate emotional expressions from them. An autistic person may not be able to tell when a situation does not call for laughter or humour. They may also experience nervous laughter in such situations.
  • Inappropriate laughter could also be a result of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. People with this condition may laugh out of place because of how differently they perceive the world. Regulating their emotions may not come naturally to them, or it could also be that they experience hallucinations that induce laughter.
  • Bipolar disorder and other neurological disorders and brain injuries can cause manic episodes, making people feel extremely excited and or invincible, making them laugh inappropriately.
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Deep breathing and therapy could help manage inappropriate laughing. Getty/ RealPeopleGroup

Treatment

Treatment for inappropriate laughter depends on the cause. One may be prescribed medication for mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and anxiety.

Therapy is another effective tool for managing anxiety in social situations.

Deep breathing and treatment for brain disorders such multiple sclerosis could be effective as well.

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