Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a problem in the brain that causes you to laugh or cry for no reason. When you have PBA, sudden fits of tears or laughter can come from nowhere. This behavior usually has nothing to do with what you're doing or feeling. And it's something you can't control. PBA tends to cause awkward social situations. It can make daily living very stressful.
PBA can happen along with certain health problems that affect the brain. Fortunately, there is medicine that can help improve PBA symptoms. Support from people who understand PBA can also help.
Brain damage from a stroke, brain tumor, or head trauma can lead to PBA. PBA can also happen along with such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, ALS and dementia.
Normally, the "feel" and "express" parts of your brain work together. But with PBA, the expressive part of your brain can trigger behavior on its own. Laughing or crying can happen at any time, no matter what you're feeling.
When you have PBA, you may:
Your doctor can diagnose PBA based on your symptoms and behavior, along with looking at your past health.
PBA is sometimes mistaken for depression or bipolar disorder.
Medicine that affects certain brain chemicals usually improves PBA. Medicines include:
Support from people who understand PBA can also be helpful. Talk to people close to you about PBA. Be patient and kind to yourself, and ask for help if you need it.
Other Works ConsultedAhmed A, Simmons Z (2013). Pseudobulbar affect: Prevalence and management. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 9: 483-489. DOI: 10.2147/TCRM.S53906. Accessed July 25, 2016.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerColin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Current as ofOctober 28, 2016
Current as of:
October 28, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017