Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) – HealthStatus

Pseudobulbar affect, or PBA is a condition that is often a symptom of a brain injury or neurological condition. PBA causes uncontrollable laughter or crying that happens suddenly and often. Episodes can happen a few times a day or several times a month. How long they last and how often they appear depends on the person.

The effects of Pseudobulbar are more common than most people know because it is so easily misdiagnosed. It affects about 2 to 7 million people. PBA is caused by a damaged nervous system. It is often misdiagnosed with depression, which is a psychological, not neurological, disorder.


The effects of Pseudobulbar can overwhelm your emotions, sometimes causing embarrassing or disruptive situations. The main symptom of PBA is laughing or crying uncontrollably. It can also cause moments of extreme anger or frustration. Crying uncontrollably is more common than laughing. Episodes are often short in duration, which is different from depression, where episodes can last for a long time. The effects of Pseudobulbar can lead to depression because the episodes can cause some embarrassment and make you not want to work with others. People with PBA may also experience sleep disturbances and loss of appetite.


There are many different conditions that can be associated with PBA. PBA does not detect itself, someone with PBA must have a brain injury or neurological condition. Such as Alzheimers disease, or dementia. Other conditions are amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke. People with a traumatic brain injury can also develop PBA.

The effects of Pseudobulbar are greatly misdiagnosed. It is sometimes thought of as depression or another mood disorder that looks a lot like PBA. With excessive mood swings and uncontrollable mood swings that are not always appropriate for the current situation. Your doctor may need to run some tests to rule out other conditions that mimic PBA, such as a type of seizure. An electroencephalogram (electroencephalogram) may be done to rule out this form of epilepsy.

There are two different questionnaires that your doctor may want to review with you. One of them is the Pathological Laughing and Crying Scale. This questionnaire will ask questions about how long and how often episodes last. As well as episodes that are tied to the emotional or social situation you’re in. And how sad you were after that. The second scale is the Center for Neurological Research- Ability Scale.


PBA can lead to a few complications. It can make you feel anxious that another episode will happen. It can also lead to depression. Exercise can interfere with work or daily activities. Sometimes someone with PBA may begin to isolate themselves from others for fear of episodes. Some people may not be able to cope with attacks.


Treatment is used to improve the quality of life of people with PBA. Medicines can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes. Antidepressants may be prescribed in lower doses than usual to help relieve attacks. The only FDA-approved PBAs are Dextromethorphan hydrobromide and quinidine sulfate. This cuts the number of episodes by almost half. If you feel a pain coming, you can take deep breaths, relax, perform relaxation techniques, and change positions such as sitting down or standing.

Keep a diary of episodes, how often they happen, and what happens during them so you can discuss them with your doctor. Tell the people around you about your condition so they know what might happen. This can help reduce embarrassment in the event an episode occurs. PBA occurs when the prefrontal cortex is damaged. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but with medication and treatment, it can help improve quality of life.

PBA is often misdiagnosed as a psychological disorder not a neurological disorder!

HealthStatus Team

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