Emotional Lability

Emotional lability is when a person experiences episodes of uncontrollable crying or laughter. There is often no connection between these episodes and a person’s actual emotional state or their immediate environment. For example, someone with emotional lability may break into uncontrollable laughter when watching a news report about a serious incident, such as an air crash. These inappropriate reactions can be confusing for people around them, including those who care for them.

Explaining why this happens (it is part of the changes to the interaction of motor neurones with the brain) and reassuring both the person and those close to them that it is related to the MND can help make sense of this sometimes unsettling symptom.

Support you can give

If the person is experiencing emotional lability it is important that they know they can talk to you as a compassionate medical professional. Good communication with the person and those they care about, to help them understand this symptom of the disease may help them come to terms with it. If the symptom is severe, medication such as tricyclic antidepressants may be tried although this isn’t always successful.

This symptom should get better in time. You may want to create an ‘advice sheet’ which can be shown to others if, particularly during such an episode, the person finds it difficult to communicate. In addition, as you get to know the individual, you can work with them to devise coping mechanisms.