How to Handle Pseudobulbar Affect as a Caregiver

Posted by Joe on 12/3/2014 to Around the House
If you have a loved one who has Pseudobulbar affect, or PBA, you know that this is quite a challenging condition to deal with as a caregiver. This article will help to explain what this disorder is and how to live with it.

PBA often is characterized by sudden, uncontrollable laughter or crying, and can happen to people who had a stroke or other types of neurological problems. PBA affects two million Americans and often is improperly diagnosed as depression.

PBA can occur in stroke patients who suffered a severe stroke on one side of the brain. A large stroke can leave your loved one without the ability to speak or swallow. And he or she may become quick to anger, cry often and obsess over things.


If your loved one cries or gets angry suddenly after a stroke, he could have PBA.

With therapy and the help of a good caregiver, your loved one will be able to recover some of his functions. He can, for example, often learn to walk with a cane, feed himself and to swallow again. But some of the emotional issues related to PBA can take longer to change. Your loved one may cry suddenly over good or bad news, or act inappropriately, such as laughing at a funeral. He may also get angry suddenly because he knows he cannot control his emotions.

To deal with your loved one's PBA, keep these things in mind:

  • Ask your doctor: There are tests available to determine if your loved one has PBA.
  • Tell friends and family: Your loved one may be upset that people don't understand why he is 'misbehaving.' Don't try to hide the condition - talk about it with your family and friends.
  • Be patient: Your loved one may have a fit of crying or laughing but it won't last very long in most cases.


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