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Why can't I laugh anymore?


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Please help me as I am desperate to find an answer. I have noticed for the past three years or so I havn't laughed hard, or barely laughed at all!! It is hard to describe but you know when you laugh so hard your eyes water and you laugh out loud? Well anymore if I see something funny I just think it's funny and I might smile, but that is all. My friends sometimes say how did you not find that funny and think im depressed or something so i find myself fake laughing. I am only 19 years of age. Please, if anyone feels the same way or know what is the matter then i would be grateful!!:confused::D:(

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There is a variety of low level chronic depression called "dysthymia" which might possibly apply to your situation. You can read about Dysthymic Disorder here. Basically this is a low level depression that never really goes away but never really gets all that bad either, lasting two or more years consecutively. I don't know if not laughing for several years qualifies a person - you will have to read up and see if the shoe fits. You don't mention whether you are feeling blue/depressed, and it would be important that something in that nature is happening to you if dysthymia would fit. Can you tell us more about what is happening?

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Thank you very much Mark for taking time to read my message!!

Well i'm going to be completely honest with you. I hav a lot of different things going on. I have never been a typically happy person. I have up days, and down days like any normal person. I have always been insecure. I often have days where I feel down in the dumps for no reason and experience feelings of hopelessness.

Also, I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 17. I was really depressed the year before my diagnoses due to ill health and knowing I was sick but not knowing why or if I was imagining it. Although I was not diagnosed with depression, I experienced symptoms such as crying for no reason, and not being able to get out of bed (although the lack of energy from the tumor is partly to blame for that).

I have been in remission for a year and have an excellent prognosis. My treatment is over but I am still experiencing side effects from some of the drugs I had to take. For instance, I was put into temporary menopause during chemo and still have all the common symptoms from menopause including mood swings and being highly emotional!!! This is supposed to go away in time.

I had 17 chemos altogether, and they were very strong. I now have a condition called "chemo brain" (yes what a stupid name I know and it sounds made up but it exists!)which means I have a bad short term memory and my brain is a little slower. This will fade away in time so I try not to get down about it. I thought this might be one of the factors affecting my ability to laugh, as it is as if my brain has been numbed, but I think this started before chemo.

I know I have mentioned many things here and it probably makes me out to me a total hypochondriac!! I just get upset when I think I may never laugh again. I don't even laugh when I drink alcohol!! I have learned to deal with the mood swings and try to take them in my stride as I am so used to them now. I am just so confused

Thanks again.

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What you've described is a very stressful life event (cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment), which has had a profound impact on your body and brain. You're also saying that you've always been someone a little bit predisposed to feeling down in the dumps. So - it may be the case that you are just a little bit more vulnerable to becoming depressed than some other people might be in the first place, and that this vulnerability is colliding (has collided) with some seriously frightening stress. The experience of cancer is frightening and harrowing in of itself, but there is the further possibility that part of the side effects of your chemo is a further push towards mood issues. Some physical illnesses (and some side effects from treatments) are associated with depression, and what you've been through might very well be one of them. So - where I'm going is that what you're experiencing might very well be a normal side effect of the stuff you've been through, and not necessarily anything to worry about. People don't always realize that some amount of depression, particularly when they have been through a lot, is expectable and okay. Not fun, but okay.

If you started to become seriously suicidal in your thinking; if you started to feel truly hopeless; if you became unable to get yourself out of bed; if you found that life had become drained of all joy (not just drained of all laughter, but all joy), then you've got a bigger problem that would require immediate medical attention.

As it is, you might benefit from seeing a psychiatrist to see if depression (or dysthymia) fit as a diagnosis, and to explore treatment options that might help. A Psychiatrist, by virtue of being a medical doctor, will likely want to prescribe medication for depression, but you should know that there are wonderful scientifically validated psychotherapies for depression these days which, when considered in the long run, work better than the antidepressant medications. Or both modalities (antidepressant medication and psychotherapy for depression such as CBT) can be used simaltaneously. The other thing to know is that simple things that most people don't think of as treatment can have a dramatic effect on depressed mood, particularly when that depressed mood is not severe. Vigorous regular physical exercise, for example, can do wonders. And simply getting yourself out of the house and socializing with live people (not via telephone or text message or social network, but real life interaction - what we used to call "hanging out") is also a mood lifter. We go over a lot of this treatment stuff in our Major Depression Topic Center. I've linked here to the relevant sections, although if you are looking to learn about this sort of problem you might want to read the whole thing.


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Thankyou!!That is just what I needed. I was so confused, I just didn't know where to turn. I havn't spoken to anyone about this before-not even my family.

I am definitely not suicidal in any way and I only experienced feelings like that three years ago and I have firmly put them behind me. In a way the cancer diagnosis was a relief, as I knew that there was something wrong and I knew what it was.

I didn't know whether I had a serious problem or if I was experiencing something that was normal. What you have said has cleared up all of the uncertainty in my mind. It's hard to explain, but you have helped me so much. I needed to talk to someone because I was going crazy keeping it to myself. Now I feel I can carry on with my life and I feel more positive about my future. I know what I am experiencing is normal and someone understands me.

If I had found this website a year ago I could have moved on sooner.

You have helped me move on and I am sure you will do the same for many more people. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!

Cami. :D

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I'm glad that I could provide some information that feels helpful.

I've seen this thing happen before where people are in a hurry to feel better and when they get some information that makes sense to them, they praise the person or source that they got that information from and say "I'm cured now" and run off. And I've noticed that a good portion of the time, they aren't cured and they only feel better for a while. Not that I'm wishing this for you at all, I truly do hope that you are feeling better and will remain so as you have suggested, but I do wish to say that if you want to continue talking about your feelings here, now or in the future, that is okay. Feeling better is often a continuing process, not a discrete event.


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  • 1 year later...

Hello Mark,

Sorry I am SOOOOOOO late in replying. You are so right. I did run off and think "im cured" for a while. Truth is, I was not cured, but you definitely helped me. I am well on the way to healing. The truth is, I AM predisposed to feeling unhappy. I have felt like that since I was a child. Getting cancer In my opinion didn't have much to do with that, it was merely a thing to blame for my behaviour. I noticed, if I don't keep busy, I start to fall into a bit of a hole, where I over think things and become unhappy. But i have learnt that I AM NOT ALONE!! It is normal to feel this way. It is probably a year since I have visited this forum but I have learnt so much. It is normal to feel this way.

One thing I can't put into words. I have achieved SO much. I have reached ALL of my own expectations. Im still not happy. But what is happy to me? I often ask myself why aren't I happy? Everything has gone so well in my life. Why aren't I happy?

I feel that It is a chemical thing. I can't help it. It's just who I am. I have realised, this is who I am. When I am feeling down. I tell myself, look, its not my fault. It's just moods. I have the perfect family,life, friends. It's nothing I can control so I just get on with it. I live with it, and just wait for the low mood to pass, because it DOES pass, and I am happy again.

I realise It could be worse.

I can't put into words really what I am feeling. I just want to say that I DO feel that I have something like dysthymia. Where I do feel low, but where hanging out with friends makes me feel good. That is TRUE!! The fact that you told me that made me feel NORMAL. I know now that I NEED to be social to keep my mood up. It helps so much.

I better go now, I just wanted to say THANKYOU. YOU have helped me on my way of happiness and I know it takes time but you have helped me understand what I am going through. I continue to have ups and downs, but at least I understand the downs and know how to ease them with being social and also understand how I can't fully control them.

THANKYOU thats all I can say :-)

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