Pseudobulbar Affect…

Explaining Unpredictable Emotional Episodes

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a medical condition characterized by sudden and uncontrollable episodes of crying or laughing. It is sometimes referred to as emotional labilitypathological crying and laughing oremotional incontinence. An episode of PBA can occur at any time, even in inappropriate social situations.

PBA can occur in stroke survivors or people with other neurologic conditions such as dementia, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) or traumatic brain injury. It is thought to affect more than 1 million people in the U.S. PBA is often mistaken for depression, causing it to be underdiagnosed, undertreated and sometimes inappropriately treated.

Symptoms

Only a doctor can diagnose PBA. However, the Center for Neurologic Study-Lability Scale (CNS-LS), developed by healthcare professionals, can help you assess whether you have symptoms of PBA. Your answers to this simple seven-question scale will help you determine whether to talk to your healthcare provider about PBA. A CNS-LS score of 13 or higher may suggest PBA.

When you are finished completing the scale, you will receive recommendations for how you can talk to your doctor based on your score.

This scale is not intended as a substitute for professional medical assessment and/or advice. Please consult your healthcare provider.

Treatment

The first step to treating PBA is to get an accurate diagnosis. Because people with PBA may cry a lot, their symptoms may be confused with depression. However, PBA is not depression. PBA can be treated. Ask your healthcare professional about PBA treatment options.

 

 

Management

  • Be open about the problem so people are not surprised or confused when you have an episode.
  • When you feel an episode coming on, try to distract yourself by counting the number of objects on a shelf or by thinking about something unrelated.
  • Take slow deep breaths until you’re in control.
  • Relax your forehead, shoulders and other muscle groups that tense up during an emotional episode.

 

 

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