Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)
COVID-19 Info: Vaccines (5 & up) | Boosters | Testing | Visitor Guidelines | Stats | More
IMPORTANT NOTICE: COVID-19 testing appointments are not available at Cone Health emergency departments or urgent care locations. Click here for testing options.
Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a problem in the brain that causes you to laugh or cry for no reason. When you have PBA, sudden fits of tears or laughter can come from nowhere. This behavior usually has nothing to do with what you're doing or feeling. And it's something you can't control. PBA tends to cause awkward social situations. It can make daily living very stressful.
PBA can happen along with certain health problems that affect the brain. Fortunately, there is medicine that can help improve PBA symptoms. Support from people who understand PBA can also help.
Brain damage from a stroke, brain tumor, or head trauma can lead to PBA. PBA can also happen along with such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, and dementia.
Normally, the "feel" and "express" parts of your brain work together. But with PBA, the expressive part of your brain can trigger behavior on its own. Laughing or crying can happen at any time, no matter what you're feeling.
When you have PBA, you may:
Your doctor can diagnose PBA based on your symptoms and behavior, along with looking at your past health.
PBA is sometimes mistaken for depression or bipolar disorder.
PBA is treated with medicine that affects certain brain chemicals. Medicines include:
Another key to living with PBA is support from people who understand it. Talk with people close to you about your condition. Be patient and kind to yourself. And ask for help when you need it.
Current as of:
August 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineColin Chalk MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Current as of: August 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.