Some people with multiple sclerosis may find that they laugh or cry with minimal provocation or at inappropriate times. This is because MS lesions have occurred in the areas of the brain that govern the emotional pathways. These symptoms are also called pseudobulbar affect.
Pathological laughing and crying
A physical disorder that results from disturbance of emotional expression rather than a disturbance of feelings. Whilst an individual may laugh or cry uncontrollably, this doesn't indicate that they feel happy or sad.
Characterised by an excessive emotional response to a minor stimulus.
Both symptoms are different from mood swings, which may also be experienced in MS.
Both pathological laughing and crying and emotional lability are transient, short lived changes which usually resolve quickly.
Last updated: December 2017
Last reviewed: November 2014
This page will be reviewed within three years