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
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.
PBAinfo.org 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.