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Gelophobia, geliophobia, gelotophobia (from Greek gelo, "laugh") is the fear of laughter, laughing or of being laughed by them. People coping with this phobia may find jokes, comedies, and funny situations or people a source of anxiety. The cause of gelophobia is often due to an embarrassing experience with laughter, such as the victim of a some type of mistreatment, laughing at an inappropriate time leading to embarrassment and humiliation as a result, or was consistently laughed at for reasons that were beyond their control.

If the sufferer confronts the laughter, they may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they may experience paralyzing anxiety and/or panic attacks with symptoms of heart palpations, numbness, trembling, breathlessness, heightened senses, etc.

There are a number of methods to treat gelophobia, such as hypnotherapy, talk therapy, self-help techniques such as muscle relaxation, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization, exposure therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. For severe sufferers, anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed.

See also