Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a little-known neurological disorder that can cause uncontrollable outbreaks of emotion, such as laughing and crying.
Also known as “emotional incontinence,” PBA can strike a person at any age, but generally accompanies another neurological diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, according to PBAinfo.org, a website dedicated to raising awareness about this little-known, and often misunderstood disorder.
Symptoms of PBA
Emotional outbursts that are sudden and uncontrollable represent the primary symptom of PBA.
These outpourings of emotion can run the gamut; from bouts of laughter, to episodes of crying that may last anywhere from a few seconds, to a few minutes. These episodes can strike up to 100 times a day, according to the American Stroke Association.
Besides being out of the control of the person experiencing them, the emotional spells caused by PBA may not reflect the actual feelings of that individual. A person may cry in response to a joke, or have a laughing fit during a funeral.
Surges of emotion may also be overly exaggerated. For instance, an individual may exhibit a bout of raucous laughter in response to a neutral or mildly humorous situation.
Causes of PBA
PBA is thought to be triggered by a traumatic injury, or a neurological disease that affects the parts of the brain that deal with the processing and expression of emotions. In effect, people with PBA suffer from an injury-induced, “short-circuiting” of the signals that govern their emotions.
Some health problems that may give rise to PBA include:
- A stroke
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinsonís disease
- Brain trauma
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
PBA is a separate neurological disorder that can be diagnosed and treated independently of other health problems. But diagnosis can often be tricky, as the symptoms of this disease closely mirror those of depression and other mood disorders. Many medical professionals donít even know that PBA is a distinct disorder.
Diagnostic methods for detecting PBA are relatively sparse. There are essentially two tests a doctor may use to identify a person with the PBA: the Pathological Laughter and Crying Scale and the Center for Neurologic Study-Lability Scale.
These screenings are designed to help a physician determine how often, and how severe, PBA outbursts are in patients, as well as what their primary emotional triggers are.
If you feel that you, or a loved one, might have undiagnosed PBA, it’s important to notify a doctor of your concerns so that a formal diagnosis can be made and a treatment plan drawn up.
Continue reading to learn more about the signs of PBA, and how to cope with the disorder…
Pseudobulbar Affect: Just Another Name for Depression? originally†appeared on†AgingCare.com.