Anushka Shetty has laughing disease or Pseudobulbar affect

Baahubali actress Anushka Shetty says she suffers from a laughing disease called Pseudobulbar affect. Here’s everything you should know.

Pseudobulbar affect, a neurological disorder that can make you laugh or cry involuntarily, has struck famous southern actor Anushka Shetty. Referred to as the “laughing disease”, it is a rare condition that affects several people around the world. The Baahubali actress, in an interview with Indiaglitz, revealed that she has a rare condition that makes her laugh for 15-20 minutes at a stretch. The 42-year-old called laughing a big problem for her as it even leads to a halt at work sometimes.

“I have a laughing disease. You might wonder, ‘Is laughing a problem?’ For me, it is. If I start laughing. I can’t stop for 15-20 minutes. While watching or shooting comedy scenes, I literally roll on the floor laughing, and the shoot has been halted many times,” Anushka Shetty says in the interview.

Anushka Shetty
Anushka Shetty suffers from a rare neurological disorder that leads to involuntary laughter or crying. Image courtesy: Instagram/AnushkaShetty

What is Pseudobulbar affect?

Often dubbed as the laughing disease, PBA is a neurological disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable episodes of laughing or crying that are unrelated to the person’s emotional state. It typically happens due to neurological damage or injury, often associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease.

People with this condition may experience sudden outbursts of laughter or tears. These episodes may disrupt your daily life as these emotions are not a reflection of a person’s true feelings or emotions. While it may seem easy to manage, it becomes difficult to restrain if someone has PBA. Treatment for the disease may include medications that affect neurotransmitters in the brain and help you manage the symptoms.

PBA is always secondary to illnesses in the brain like Stroke, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Head injuries, and Parkinson’s Disease to name a few. Pseudobulbar Affect is typically seen in people with advanced age, says Dr Sunil Singla, Director, and HOD, Department of Neurology at SHALBY Sanar International Hospitals. It is important for individuals experiencing symptoms of PBA to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management.

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What are the symptoms of pseudobulbar affect (PBA)?

The initial sign of the “laughing disease” usually presents itself as episodes of uncontrollable laughing and/or crying. It can be with or without context, says the expert. Your mood may change between episodes of laughter and crying, which can occur at any time. According to Mayo Clinic, crying appears to be more of a common sign of PBA than laughing.

PBA frequently elicits an intense emotional response, with crying or laughing lasting for several minutes. It is commonly confused with depression due to its association with crying. However, PBA is typically shorter in duration than depression, which results in a permanent sense of despair. Additionally, PBA patients frequently do not exhibit depressive symptoms such as insomnia or appetite loss. If you think you have PBA, talk to your doctor and get proper treatment timely.

What are the causes of pseudobulbar affect?

This condition is generally caused by neurological conditions or injuries that affect your brain and make it difficult to regulate your emotions. Here are some common causes of the condition:

  • Neurological conditions: Multiple neurological conditions can lead to PBA, including multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease. and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Brain abnormalities: Structural or functional brain abnormalities can affect certain areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and can potentially lead to PBA.
  • Medications: In some cases, certain medical conditions affect the neurotransmitter levels in the brain which may trigger the symptoms of the condition.
  • Genetics: If anyone in your family or your blood relative has suffered from the condition, you are more likely to develop PBA in response to other neurological conditions or injuries.
woman laughing
Laughing non stop can also be an indication of a health problem. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Treatment for pseudobulbar affect

Treatment for PBA focuses on managing symptoms to improve the quality of life. There is no specific treatment although, there are some medications like anti-depressant drugs that can be tried but it may or may not improve the condition. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is also an option, says Dr Singla.

Regular follow-up with healthcare providers is necessary to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and make adjustments as needed. Overall, a comprehensive approach involving medication, management of underlying conditions, and supportive therapies is essential in addressing PBA and improving the overall well-being of individuals affected by this condition.

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