What is it?

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a disorder in the central nervous system that can make the person become angry, laugh or cry without being able to control those emotions. The person’s mood does not match the emotions he or she displays. The symptoms may come a go quickly and it could happen a few times a day or a few times a month. The cause for pseudobulbar affect might be damage to the prefrontal cortex which may be caused due to injury, Alzhemier’s disease, brain tumor, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, dementia, multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of pseudobulbar affect may include sudden laughter or cry, which are out of control and do not fit the situation, outbursts of frustration and anger and facial expression that do not match the emotions.


Diagnosis is based upon medical history, and physical examination. It is hard to diagnose, and often is mistakenly diagnosed as major depressive disorder, or bipolar disorder. There is no specific test that can help with diagnosis.


Treatment starts with education around what pseudobulbar affect is, which was found to be helpful. If it is not enough and the disorder is affecting the person’s life, medications such as antidepressants may be administered. Recently, the first medication for pseudobulbar affect was released, called Nuedexta.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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