Male patient laughing due to PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA)

Talk to your doctor about managing PBA

PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA) is a real condition with its own symptoms—and there’s help.

Learn about a PBA treatment option

Getting an accurate diagnosis is key

Because PBA always happens with certain neurologic conditions or brain injury, its symptoms are often misunderstood. Sudden, frequent, uncontrollable crying or laughing from PBA can be mistaken for other states or conditions, such as:

Depression
Learn more about PBA and depression here
Bipolar Disorder
A disorder associated with mood swings
Euphoria
Excessive laughter sometimes associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS)
PTSD
(post-traumatic stress disorder) – A disorder that follows a traumatic event, sometimes associated with conditions like traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Pain
A feeling sometimes communicated through crying, especially in people with Alzheimer’s disease

It is possible to have any of these symptoms while having PBA. Each condition should be diagnosed and managed by a doctor.

Only your doctor can diagnose PBA. That's why it's important to give a full picture of your laughing and/or crying episodes —including how often they occur and their impact.

Caregiver assisting patient with PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA)

Think you might have PBA?

How to start a new conversation with your doctor about PBA

  • Take a short PBA quiz
  • Show the results to your doctor
  • Use the tips on this page to guide your conversation

Tell your doctor if you or someone you care for:

  • Sometimes feels fine one minute, then suddenly cries over the smallest things or for no reason
  • Laughs at very inappropriate times
  • Has added stress or frustration because of crying and/or laughing episodes
  • Avoids spending time in public or with family and friends because of uncontrollable crying and/or laughing episodes
  • Is concerned that these episodes could be mistaken for depression or another disorder

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Could my crying or laughing be a sign of PBA?
  • What should I know about PBA with my neurologic condition (stroke, dementia, MS, TBI, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS [Lou Gehrig’s disease])?
  • How is PBA different from depression?
  • What can I do to manage PBA?

Suggestions for your next appointment

  • Ask questions. Don’t worry about asking “the right questions,” just open up. Your doctor wants to help you understand your condition.
  • Get specific. Because PBA is sometimes mistaken for other conditions, make sure to describe your symptoms. How often do they happen? How long do they last? How do you feel while they’re happening? Details matter.
  • Write your questions down beforehand. It's also good to take notes during your appointment. If you prefer, keep notes in your smartphone so you always have them handy.
  • Go beyond symptoms. Help your doctor understand how your symptoms impact your daily life. What has changed in your life because of this condition?
  • Bring a friend or caregiver along. They can help you remember what you learn from the doctor—and help you remember what to ask.

Are you caring for someone with these symptoms? These tips are for you, too. For extra help, read our suggestions for supporting someone with PBA.

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WHAT'S NEXT:

Get a free kit to help you discuss your PBA symptoms

Use this guide to explain how PBA affects you, and get the help you need.