12 Causes of Nervous Laughter (and How to Fix It)

If you’ve ever been in a tense situation and had to hold back, that’s a nervous laugh. You can also start smiling in inappropriate situations. This happens to a lot of people, so rest assured you’re not the only one experiencing this sign of nervousness.

Nervous laughter occurs when you experience an emotion that doesn’t fit the situation. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and getting to know them can help you control your laughter. Many of the reasons are psychological, but there are also some medical causes of the condition.

While nervous laughter may embarrass you, you can work around it. If you let it continue, it could interfere with your relationships or work life. Look for these signs and make the necessary changes.

Twelve causes of nervous laughter

There are a few causes of nervous laughter, and you can identify with some of them. Think about a few times this has happened to you and see if any of these reasons relate to you.

1. Nervous laughter is a defense mechanism

Nervous laughter can be a defense mechanism for some people. This helps them overcome anxiety and gives them a sense of comfort. When you laugh, it’s a way of making you believe that the situation isn’t as bad as it seems.

Playing about something terrible that happened is a way of dealing with past traumas. It helps you heal, but others don’t always see it that way. You can also laugh if you haven’t fully processed the situation, because it makes you uncomfortable.

2. Coping and healing

Laughing at a funeral is similar to crying at a wedding, although crying is more socially acceptable. It involves deep emotions, and your expression doesn’t always match how you feel inside.

Studies show that nervous laughter can occur in response to dramatic or life-changing experiences. When your body must respond to something like this, it doesn’t always handle as expected or expected. Your emotions can be uncontrollable when you feel overwhelmed.

Laughter also helps distract you from the pain associated with a negative situation. You can laugh as a way to forget about intense feelings for a few minutes.

3. Pseudobulbar effect (PBA)

PBA occurs with brief moments of intense emotions that do not match the situation. Outside of those times, your emotions and moods are appropriate and you can usually control them.

Although the episodes are usually brief, they can still cause embarrassment and anxiety. It can lead to isolation and social isolation, which interferes with your ability to live your life.

4. Asperger’s Disorder or Autism

ONE 2021 study shows that parents of children with autism report inappropriate emotional expressions from their children. People with autism don’t read social cues well and can laugh at things that aren’t funny. They usually don’t realize it’s inappropriate, even when other people aren’t laughing.


kuru is a type of infectious disease that belongs to the class of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). These are misshapen, clumped protein molecules called prions that accumulate in brain tissue.

This disease damages the cerebellum of your brain, where emotional processes are located. Once this area of ​​your brain is damaged, it can cause inappropriate emotional responses.

6. Hyperthyroidism

When your thyroid gland produces too many hormones, it causes hyperthyroidism. Hormones control cellular energy use and metabolism and can cause many problems, including nervous laughter.

7. Malaise or nervousness

People tend to laugh when they feel uncomfortable. This situation can occur whenever some experience nervousness or when something happens that they don’t like. It can also occur after a frightening moment as a way of relieving the discomfort you just experienced.

8. Seeing other people laughing can cause nervous laughter.

When you hear or see another person laugh, it makes you want to laugh. This experience occurs even in inappropriate situations. If a person starts laughing, so can you, even if you don’t find something funny.

9. Graves’ Disease

If your immune system makes too many antibodies and they stick to your thyroid cells, this causes Graves’ disease. When the cells reach the thyroid, it overstimulates it and causes too much hormone production. It affects the nervous system, leading to symptoms including nervous laughter.

10. Feeling uncomfortable can inflame nervousness

When you feel uncomfortable, it’s easy to start overthinking your behavior and the situation. You may laugh involuntarily as a way to diffuse the embarrassment. This situation usually occurs when you are meeting someone new or when there is awkward silence.

11. Anxiety can trigger nervous laughter.

Research shows that nervous laughter is a way to release the negative energy associated with anxiety. It can help you calm down and relieve nervousness or discomfort.

Other study sample that nervous laughter can help restore balance, even in a distressing situation. This research goes so far as to say that all laughter, even in funny situations, is a form of anxiety relief. It bridges the gaps between people, helping you feel a connection with others.

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12. Tranquility

Laughing during inappropriate situations can be a subconscious way of reassuring yourself that everything is okay. This makes you and those around you feel that the situation is not a threat or something to be worried about.

If you’re not sure about a situation, you’re likely to laugh nervously. If others question something you are doing, you may have the same reaction. However, laughter does not always accurately represent a harmless situation.

How to fix nervous laughter

If your nervous laughter causes negative feelings, you can find a way to correct it. Some of the emotions you may experience include:

  • Weakness
  • Shame
  • Fault
  • Shame

When your nervous laughter happens too often, it can cause problems in your life. People may avoid you if they think you find joy in bad situations. Or it can hurt your feelings when you laugh at your difficulties.

Other people may also experience negative emotions from your laughter. They may feel uncomfortable, confused or critical about the behavior. To fix these issues and completely avoid the situation, try some of these things:

Control nervous laughter by doing deep breathing exercises

These exercises help relieve anxiety that overstimulates the nervous system and brain. When you can relax, you will be less likely to laugh in inappropriate situations.

Meditation to control nervous laughter

O meditation silence can calm your mind and help you reorient yourself. Instead of focusing on the things that stress you out, you are more likely to focus on positivity. It promotes cognitive and emotional energy, allowing you to maintain your composure.

Music therapy and art can relieve nervousness

Creative activities consume your attention and stimulate your brain. You will be more aware of your behaviors and will be able to control them before the laughter starts.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT can help you learn to stop your nervous laughter with mindful responses. As you notice things before you do them, you can stop them sooner. So you don’t even need to do damage control if you hurt someone’s feelings.

Treat underlying conditions that cause nervousness

If a medical condition is causing your nervous laughter, you should treat it. Speak with a medical professional to discuss the best course of action.


Repeatedly counting to a specific number can help calm your nerves. Choose the number you want and keep counting until you feel better. You can combine this method with breathing techniques for even more calming effects.

Improve your social skills

Sometimes all it takes to ease your nervous laughter is to improve your social skills. Focus on assertiveness so you can better handle difficult situations. Learning to be an empath can help you connect with others on an emotional level.

Improving your social skills also requires socializing more often. When you don’t spend a lot of time with other people, you can feel nervous or uncomfortable. Get out there, spend more time talking to others, and you’ll feel more comfortable.

Focus on the person speaking

Focus on the person you are talking to rather than your thoughts. This helps you to be less self-conscious, lowering your risk of smiling or laughing. You will be more involved in the conversation while forgetting about yourself for a while.

Use positive affirmations

Positive affirmations can improve many areas of your life, including how you respond to situations. If you tend to laugh at inappropriate times, try using affirmations to help you get over it. Use “I am” statements to help you focus on the person you’re talking to and avoid laughing.

You may not be able to completely stop the behavior, but you can limit its occurrence. It will be easier to respond more appropriately when you learn to control it.

Final Thoughts on Causes of Nervous Laughter (and How to Fix It)

You may feel embarrassed or anxious about your nervous laughter, even if it happens as a way of reducing anxiety. While it might help a little, the repercussions of laughter aren’t worth it.

However, don’t be embarrassed because many people experience nervous laughter. It can be a beneficial coping tool, but it’s best if you can control the nervousness the outburst causes.

The methods discussed work for many reasons, from distracting you from uncomfortable feelings to calming your nervous system. They can also reduce tension and help you calm down and think more clearly.

By Sarah Barkley. Article in English

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