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Disease Profile

Pseudobulbar affect

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Involuntary emotional expression disorder ; Emotional lability; Pathological crying and laughing;


Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a condition characterized by episodes of sudden, uncontrollable and inappropriate episodes of crying or laughing.[1][2] The condition can be embarrassing and disruptive to daily life.[2] It typically occurs in people with certain neurological conditions or injuries that affect the way the brain controls emotion.[2] It is common in stroke survivors and people with conditions such as dementia, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and traumatic brain injury.[1] PBA is thought to affect more than one million people in the United States.[1] The goal of treatment is to reduce the severity and frequency of emotional outbursts. Treatment may include the use of antidepressants and/or a combination of dextromethorphan and quinidine.[3][2]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Organizations Providing General Support

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

        In-Depth Information

        • The National Multiple Sclerosis Society provides information about Pseudobulbar affect for health professionals.
        • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Pseudobulbar affect. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


          1. Pseudobulbar Affect. National Stroke Association. May 2013; https://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PBA.
          2. Pseudobulbar affect. Mayo Clinic. April 1, 2016; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pseudobulbar-affect/home/ovc-20198592.
          3. Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research Inappropriate laughing or crying. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). December 30, 2013; https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/detail_multiple_sclerosis.htm#240313215.
          4. Perotti LP, Cummings LD, Mercado J. Behavioral Treatment of Pseudobulbar Affect: A Case Report. Perspect Psychiatr Care. April, 2016; 52(2):82-87.
          5. Hammond FM et al. PRISM II: an open-label study to assess effectiveness of dextromethorphan/quinidine for pseudobulbar affect in patients with dementia, stroke or traumatic brain injury. BMC Neurol. June 9, 2016;
          6. Li Z, Luo S, Ou J, Huang R, Wang Y. Persistent pseudobulbar affect secondary to acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. March 18, 2015; eCollection 2015:
          7. Colamonico J, Formella A, Bradley W. Pseudobulbar affect: burden of illness in the USA. Adv Ther. September, 2012; 29(9):775-798.