Background: Humor is an important coping mechanism and can improve mood. However, it is unclear whether depressed patients are able to enjoy funny material, e.g. jokes, and make use of their sense of humor for coping with adverse situations. This study aims at investigating the influence of depression on various aspects of humor abilities such as sense of humor, appraisal of funny material and exhilaration. Sampling and Methods: Nineteen patients with major depression and 18 healthy controls were examined with standardized self-assessment questionnaires to study potential group differences in humor type preferences, state and trait cheerfulness, seriousness and bad mood as well as humor coping. Results: Patients and controls did not differ in their humor type preferences and the degree to which humorous stimuli were rated as being funny. The readiness to react to funny stimuli with exhilaration was significantly less pronounced in the patient group. The patients’ tendency to use humor as a coping strategy was significantly lower than in the control group. Conclusion: The susceptibility to humorous material seems to be unaffected by the disorder. Introducing means to promote humor behavior might therefore be beneficial to depressed patients. Study limitations were that only self-rating instruments were used and that the medication was inhomogeneous.

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