What is pseudobulbar affect (PBA)?
PBA is a condition characterized by episodes of uncontrollable laughing and/or crying that may be inappropriate, unrelated to the situation at hand, or not expressing the person's mood. The condition is known by other terms, including emotional lability, emotional incontinence, and pathological laughing and crying.
PBA is associated with neurologic disorders that may include, but are not limited to multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dementias including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.
How many people live with PBA?
A significant percentage of patients with neurologic disorders also suffer from PBA - estimates of frequency range from 10 percent to 50 percent. More than one million people may suffer from PBA in the United States alone.
What are the symptoms of PBA?
People suffering from PBA exhibit episodes of uncontrollable laughing, crying, or other emotional displays that may be inappropriate, unrelated to the situation at hand, or not expressing the person's mood. These outbursts may occur spontaneously or in response to certain situations, such as questions or events. Regardless of the situation, the outbursts are not true indications of the patients' internal emotional state.
How do I know if I have (or if a loved one has) PBA?
Only a trained medical professional can clinically diagnose PBA. Neurologists and psychiatrists are the physicians who most often specialize in diagnosing and treating the disorder. If your physician has not diagnosed your uncontrollable episodes of laughing or crying as PBA, the study site to which you are referred can evaluate you. It is important to receive an accurate diagnosis as PBA is sometimes misconstrued as depression or some other psychiatric condition. The study site has a validated assessment tool for the diagnosis of PBA.
What causes PBA?
PBA may occur when disease or injury damages the area of the brain that controls normal expression of emotion. This damage can disrupt brain signaling causing a "short circuit," triggering episodes of involuntary emotional expression.
If I am diagnosed with PBA, what does it mean for me and my family?
For many patients and families dealing with PBA, the disorder's symptoms can be stressful and embarrassing enough to cause withdrawal from social situations. The associated stress of PBA can impact the health of both patients and caregivers. Establishing open, honest communications among family members and with your medical providers should prove to be helpful.
If I am (or a loved one is) diagnosed with PBA, will I have it for the rest of my life?
If you are clinically diagnosed with PBA, you most likely will be managing it throughout your lifetime. Click on Trial FAQs and Trial Criteria to learn more about an investigational medication that may help.
How is PBA treated?
Currently, no treatment is FDA approved specifically to help control the episodes of PBA. Discussing your crying or laughing episodes with a trained medical professional is important. Neurologists and psychiatrists are the physicians who most often specialize in diagnosing and treating PBA. It also may be helpful to seek counsel from a nurse, psychologist, social worker, or other healthcare professional.
Where can I go for more information?
You may find helpful links for understanding PBA on our news page.
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