Pseudobulbar Affect: uncontrollable laughter or crying

Pseudobulbar Affect: uncontrollable laughter or crying

Have you ever noticed anybody laugh or cry uncontrollably in an inappropriate manner? I mean, uncontrollable laughter or crying to an event that doesn’t require such lengthy and exaggerated reactions?
If your response is ‘YES’, then sit back to read how Charles got over a semblance plight.

What Causes Uncontrollable Laughter or Crying

“Class? Am not saying the gas will tickle you to laughter in your armpit or tummy sides “. Mr Donald exclaimed humorously shooting out his eyeballs. The whole class chorused into a mild laughter. But, persistently and vigorously,  Charles continued his own vexatious laughter .This drew the attention of everyone in the laboratory to him, including  Mr Donald, our new chemistry teacher.

He was teaching us ‘Nitrogen and its compounds’ that day. To furnish his explanation— he added a slight joke about nitrous oxide [ laughing gas ] .The whole class reacted and became serious momentarily except my closest friend, Charles.

Charles is notably a handsome brainiac in class. Sadly, everyone in class knows how he cries or laughs uncontrollably at breaches of any felt emotions.

Uncontrollable Laughter or Crying is no Joke

“ Young man , what’s happening?” Mr Donald asked Charles frowningly.

“That’s funny sir.” Charles replied, still grinning teeth, although not as intense as the moment he initially heard the joke.

“Are you normal at all? It’s funny ,yes, but— why are you overstating the matter?”

Immediately some of the boys at the rear end of the class laughed mockingly. I heard one of them mutter in pidgin dialect, “ the guy no just get sense “.

To the surprise of the whole class, Charles bursted into tears crying profusely like a baby. Why was he incapable of controlling his emotions?

“Aaaagh” Mr Donald was astounded. He continued,  “Young man, please get out of the laboratory. You can cry or laugh to your satisfaction outside”.

In a hasty manner, Charles dashed out of the laboratory sobbing profusely. Consequently, he stopped coming to school after that day.

After a month of absence from school, Charles resumed.

Pathological Laughter or Crying – Pseudobulbar Affect

Charles is a victim of a neurological disorder called Pseudobulbar Affect Syndrome [PBA], also called pathological laughter and crying . PBA is a rare condition characterised by episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughter or cry undeserved to the concurrent event. Victims might be unable to stop themselves from crying or laughing for several minutes. It’s a neurological disorder caused by injuries to the nervous systems.

Treating Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

The condition can be managed with oral medications. The goal of treatment is to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes of laughing or crying. Treatments consist of medications like antidepressants, SSRIs and cognitive behavioural therapy. PBA is self diagnosable.

Charles was on these treatments the period he was away from school. Proportionally, there’s distinct improvement — he’s responding to those treatments.

Yea, it happens that some patients only cry or laugh and not the two together. Most cases known; entailed the two in merge, exactly like that of Charles.


This is because PBA is a neurological disorder that can excite patients angrily, cheerfully or on any emotional felt occurrence, making most of them have anger and trust issues.

May our loved ones never experience any latent disorder like Pseudobulbar Affect!

Pseudobulbar Affect: uncontrollable laughter or crying

Writer: Oyewole Adedeji Samuel
University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

Oyewole Adedeji Samuel is a prominent writer, emitting great perception of his  works via an entwinement of  his scrutinised researches with experiences accrued from all facets of life. He; a physiotherapy student, enjoys reading widely, songwriting and teaching.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. SignificantK

    My episodes of crying is not frequent though but I’ve cried uncontrollably before, most times for no reasons at all. A friend also did cry for no particular reason for 3 days in a row.
    If I may ask, how do we differentiate PBA and depression induced crying?

    1. Yewole

      PBA is frequently mistaken for major depression[MDD],because the affect involves crying. However,episodes of PBA, are prone to be short in duration,lasting from seconds to  several minutes,  unlike depression which causes  persistent feeling of sadness up to weeks or months.
          Symptoms associated with depression includes hopelessness, loss of appetite, change in mood status, critical thinking,petty feelings of guilt and sleep disturbance. PBA lacks these certain features.Nonetheless, victim can be subjected to depression latterly but the initial affect [PBA] which occurs in seconds to minutes  at any emotional disturbance can’t be controlled voluntarily.
           Lastly, PBA consistently occur  if not  treated specially in patients with the disorder,  while depression or other abrupt mood changes can be regulated personally.

  2. Mydeborahstar

    Hmm..I learnt a new thing today.PBA👏👏👏👏

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