Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a frequently reported post-stroke condition, with up to half of all stroke survivors experiencing it at some time. Despite it's prevalence, PBA is often misdiagnosed. PBA can be difficult to recognize or diagnose for a number of reasons, including similarity to depression, embarassment on the part of the patient, or difficulty in discussing the symptoms with a helathcare professional.
PBA can have a very negative impact a survivor’s social life and relationships and can even enhance a stroke survivor's experience of disability.
What is Pseudobulbar Affect?
Have you experienced sudden outbursts of uncontrollable crying or laughing? If so, you may have PBA. It is sometimes referred to as mis-matched emotions, pathological crying and laughing or emotional incontinence. An episode of PBA can occur at any time, even in inappropriate social situations.
PBA is often mistaken for depression, causing it to be underdiagnosed, undertreated and sometimes inappropriately treated.
Only a healthcare provider can diagnose PBA. However, the Center for Neurologic Study-Lability Scale (CNS-LS), developed by healthcare professionals, can help you assess whether you have symptoms of PBA. Your answers to this simple seven-question scale will help you determine whether to talk to your healthcare provider about PBA. A CNS-LS score of 13 or higher may suggest PBA.
This scale is not intended as a substitute for professional medical assessment and/or advice. Please consult your healthcare professional.
Can Pseudobulbar Affect be treated?
PBA can be treated. The first step to treating PBA is to get an accurate diagnosis. Because people with PBA may cry a lot, their symptoms may be confused with depression. However, PBA is not depression. Ask your healthcare professional about PBA treatment options. Education of patients, families, and caregivers is an important component of the appropriate treatment of PBA.
Tips to live with PBA
These tips are general coping techniques and are not substitutes for medical advice. Talk with your doctor about additional ways to cope with your PBA episodes and whether a treatment plan may be appropriate.
Research about PBA
Results of a 2010 National Stroke Association survey about PBA after stroke showed that:
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