Pseudobulbar affect can cause uncontrollable bouts of crying that are often confused for — or even misdiagnosed as — depression. Determining the underlying cause of the emotion is the key to getting proper treatment.
People who have pseudobulbar affect (PBA) often experience episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying.
Because of the latter symptom, crying, PBA is often misdiagnosed as a mood disorder — typically depression or bipolar disorder.
“Unfortunately, PBA can be misdiagnosed, and it’s usually because people find that they’re crying out of context with anything [triggering],” says Richard D. Zorowitz, MD, a rehabilitation medicine specialist at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network in Washington, D.C., and a professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.