FAQs about pseudobulbar affect

Pseudobulbar affect is a neurological condition that causes episodes of uncontrollable crying or laughter that doesn’t match a person’s mood or social situation.

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is thought to be linked to neurological damage in the frontal area of the brain, including alterations of the fronto-tempo-parietal-cerebellar circuits. PBA has also been linked to an abnormality of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters that control the expression of emotions.

While pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is not life threatening, it can cause a person living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to feel embarrassed, leading to social isolation and depression. PBA can be a life-long condition for a person living with ALS, and can be treated with medication and self-management techniques.

Pseudobulbar affect symptoms include sudden and uncontrollable outbursts of laughter or crying that don’t match how the person is feeling emotionally or social situations.

It is estimated that around 38.5% of people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — experience pseudobulbar affect.