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Pseudobulbar Affect or PBA is a condition where there is a frequent outburst of crying or laughing which is often not associated or connected to the individuals’ current emotional state. Excessive laughter can often turn to tears. However, the individual’s mood will appear normal between episodes. The outburst can occur at any time and crying is the most common sign of PBA than laughing.
The emotional response of people with PBA can be very striking. Their episodes of crying or laughing can last for several minutes. An individual with PBA may have bouts of uncontrollable laughing or cry with the latter frequently mistaken for depression, that other’s see as not funny or sad. The difference between PBA and depression is that in depression there is constant and persistent feeling of sadness while PBA episodes are shorter in duration. However, depression is a common complication of pseudobulbar affect.

Causes of Pseudobulbar Affect

PBA usually affect people with neurological conditions or brain injuries which include:

  • ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – is a disorder that affects the motor neurons
  • Multiple sclerosis – a condition where the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath of the nerve fibers
  • Traumatic brain injury – an intracranial injury that is caused by an external force
  • Alzheimer’s disease – brain degeneration that often occurs in middle or old age individuals
  • Parkinson’s disease – long time degeneration of the central nervous system that commonly affects the motor system

Though it still needs further study one theory supports that the cause of PBA is the involvement of neurological pathways where they are damaged affecting the regulation of external expression of emotion.

The complications of PBA can be emotionally exhausting for the affected individual. It can cause embarrassment, depression, and anxiety which can greatly affect a persons’ ability to perform daily normal tasks even more work.

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If you think you are suffering from Pseudobulbar Affect you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Pseudobulbar Affect as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).