Pseudobulbar Affect

I was sitting in the lobby of my ophthalmologist's office earlier this week waiting to be called back for my appointment.  As is my habit when in a waiting room, I was crocheting while paying attention to the world around me.  There was a television on in the room and I found myself watching a commercial for a prescription medication which I had never seen before.  The medication is to treat a condition I had never heard of, either.

The commercial caught my attention because of the symptoms and, if I'm writing about it here, it applies to dementia.  The condition is called Pseudobulbar Affect.  The Pseudobulbar Affect is a neurologic disorder secondary to dementia or brain trauma which leads to involuntary crying or laughing.   In May, I wrote about emotional contagion in which a dementia patient becomes more empathetic to others, mirroring their emotions.  Pseudobulbar Affect is not emotional contagion.

Lyn has not been diagnosed with it.  However, we've seen the uncontrolled crying and laughter in her.  Nikka can bring her to tears through laughter.  We did the same thing when we were visiting in August.  Lyn was anxious and we got her to laughing to avoid the tears.  She cries nearly daily.  When she reached for me saying "Hold still, I think you have a bee," my swatting her hand away (I am allergic to bees) caused instant, angry tears.

Mom and Lyn's physician have spoken of the increasing emotional outbursts.  They agree that she's going to need medication soon.  However, the conversations have not brought up this particular condition and have instead spoken in general terms of the emotionality of dementia patients.

I believe we may have a name for that emotionality.


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