Emotional Lability is not Bipolar Disorder.

One of the things that makes life with multiple sclerosis incredibly difficult for me is emotional lability.

It’s not something I talk a lot about because, well, it doesn’t merit it. Most of the time, I am able to handle myself like a normal human being. It is surprising to me, however, how little information is out there for most of us, and how quickly people are able to jump from, “You have mood swings” to “You have bipolar disorder” when emotional lability comes into play.

What Is Emotional Lability?
Emotional lability, also called Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder (IEED) or the Pseudobulbar Affect, is a medical condition that causes sudden and unpredictable episodes of crying, laughing or other emotional displays. (You know, like anger or yelling…)

IEED is seen most often following brain injury or in people with dementia, motor neuron disease, and multiple sclerosis. It can appear at any stage of the associated diseases. It is found in 10-20% of people with MS, currently.

IEED is underdiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other clinical emotional disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, generalized anxiety disorder, and even epilepsy.

Of the 59% of patients who told a physician about their symptoms, less than half received a diagnosis or treatment, and the diagnosis was most often depression.

Bradley (The doctor who was running the study) said, “This is unfortunate because IEED seriously hampers social interactions and can have a significant deleterious effect on patients’ and their families’ quality of life.”

If that ain’t an understatement, I don’t know what is.

I can personally attest to the world of suck that is Emotional Lability. It has lead me to having crying jags on the bathroom floor of a public restaurant on more than one occasion for reasons that I could not give. It’s lead me to screaming at the top of my lungs at my husband for absolutely no good reason, and I honestly believe it’s got a lot to do with a lot of the confusion and swirling self-hatred I have for my inability to pull myself together and have any kind of momentary self-control and act like an adult while going through strong emotional episodes recently.

Emotional Lability or IEED makes you seem like a crazy person because, for that moment, you *are* a crazy person. You completely lack the capability to control yourself or your emotions. Your brain meats — they do not work the way they should. It’s a physical failure that turns you into a monster or a pathetic freak. I have yet to experience the inappropriate laughter, but I’m sure it’s no less fun being a spectacle from that angle.

Still, it’s good to know that it’s a short circuit. At that point, it puts it squarely in the, “How do we prevent these things from happening, and how do we manage the aftermath?” way of thinking. *sigh*

Just one more part of how MS is *broken*.


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