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What is pseudobulbar affect (PBA) in multiple sclerosis (MS)?

When coping with a chronic and unpredictable disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS), it is common to experience a wide range of emotions. However, people with MS who have a condition known as pseudobulbar affect (PBA) can be caught off guard by episodes of uncontrollable laughing and/or crying that may be inappropriate, unrelated to the situation at hand, or not expressing their actual mood.

PBA is also known by these other terms: involuntary emotional expression disorder (IEED), emotional liability, emotional incontinence, and pathological laughing and crying. It is associated with neurologic disorders that may include, but are not limited to MS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, dementias (including Alzheimer's disease), Parkinson's disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. It is estimated that about 10 percent of people with MS suffer from PBA, but because the condition is easily overlooked or misdiagnosed, the number of cases may be much higher.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.