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The Little-Known Disorder that Mimics Depression, But Isn’t

Signs that you may be suffering from PBA:

  • You have a neurological condition, such as Alzheimer’s, MS, or Parkinson’s, or have had a stroke
  • You cry or laugh for no reason, or at improper times
  • You can’t seem to control your laughter or crying

Treating PBA

In the past, PBA was primarily treated with off-label prescriptions for SSRIs, antidepressants, and Levodopa. These medications are sometimes helpful, but their usefulness is spotty, and their side effects undesirable.

But, a few years ago, the first-ever drug specifically designed to treat PBA was released. The medication, Neudexta, was found to safely cut down on the intensity and regularity of emotional outbursts in people with PBA.

Just another name for depression?

PBA is not synonymous with depression.

Depression is a psychiatric disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. People with depression constantly feel unhappy and the expression of their emotions remains consistent with how they are feeling.

PBA is a neurological disorder caused by brain damage. People with PBA may feel sad, but the manifestation of their sadness may be laughter because the disease is interfering with their process of emotional expression. An individual may have both PBA and depression, however they are two separate diagnoses.

Prevalence of PBA

In people with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and MS, as well as those who suffer from strokes, PBA can be very prevalent.

Figures from the National Stroke Association indicate that 20% of stroke sufferers will experience PBA in the year following their stroke. And, a study conducted by the Brain Injury Association of America recently found that as many as 80% of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury have also exhibited signs of PBA.

Coping with the effects of PBA

PBA can have an enormous impact on a person’s social life. Emotional episodes caused by the disease can be embarrassing, and may damage interpersonal relationships.

The Brain Injury Association of America study indicates that 60% of people with brain injuries feel that PBA and its accompanying outbursts make it hard for them to initiate and maintain friendships.

Dealing with the feelings of isolation brought on by the effects of the disorder can be a challenge for people with PBA. offers a few tips to help people living with PBA cope with the negative effects of the disease:

  • Bear in mind that your emotional outbursts are caused by a physical disease, not a mental condition.
  • Find people who are supportive and willing to listen to your frustrations and concerns.
  • Keep an “episode diary.” By recording PBA episodes, you can ensure better communication with your doctor and help him or her make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

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Read more: Depression, Health, Mental Wellness, , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor

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9:09AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

interesting comments. interesting article

7:14PM PDT on May 21, 2013

interesting! i've never heard of that before...

6:10AM PDT on May 8, 2013

This is good information to have if you are caretaking someone who has survived a stroke or other possible brain trauma. Important to remember there can be a physical cause for emotional outbursts.

12:41PM PDT on May 5, 2013

Interesting...I am a psychiatric nurse but have never heard of this diagnosis. Thanks Care2 for the info.

6:42PM PDT on May 3, 2013

Someone else commented that Christians are brainwashed. If anyone is following any other than the True God, Jesus Christ, this may indeed be. If they are true Christians following Jesus they not only do not drink any blood, they are also horrified at the spilling of any blood. So Jane whoever you are please get your facts straight before you start to generalize Christians as haters. I am not about to be offended by a truly ignorant sort as yourself. Though I will insist you educate yourself for your own good. Have a great night!

6:34PM PDT on May 3, 2013

No Thank You!!! First of all I am sick of all of this nonsense of yet another disorder we all may have and or develop! No NO No!!! It's all BS to trick us into thinking we can none of us survive without yet ANOTHER prescription drug. And I don't buy it. What do you call RLS? A person just dosen't want to go to bed. Fine then get up and do something till you do want to go to bed! Common sense tells you that.But if you pop a pill for that man I feel sorry for you! Granted some of us come up from a life of pure hell. Enough to be depressed about. Is that enough of a reason to take a drug daily and claim the label Major Depessed? I for one survived the death of my child. And at one time had that diagnosis. Yes for a time I needed pills for it. Not forever though! Before you buy into this need for a or another pill ask yourself, How strong am I? You just might be surprised at the answer.Doctors don't know everything!

10:28AM PDT on May 3, 2013

Useful information~ Can't say the 'drug remedy' is always the best way to go, however. Our society is being handed a pill for every human reaction to living,... [and it usually isn't very pleasant for the drug taker to experience the mind altering affects] But, in some cases perhaps a mild medication could soften the symtoms. It seems the drug is primarily advised for those who share a life with the person's affliction, rather than the actual health benefits of the one who has this syndrome.

Still and yet, a good article.

6:17AM PDT on May 3, 2013

Thank you AgingCare, for Sharing this!

6:05AM PDT on May 3, 2013

PBA sounds like a very sad condition for those who suffer from it.

5:53AM PDT on May 3, 2013

Jane, have you any idea how addled you sound? Of course religion does not cause depression. A chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression my dear.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

didn't realize you could make brown sugar. thanks.

Thanks for sharing for these ideas.

Lee - true, so true.

Great ideas, thanks Becky :)


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