Diagnosis and management of pathological laughter and crying

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Nov;81(11):1482-6. doi: 10.4065/81.11.1482.


Patients with various neurologic disorders exhibit exaggerated or inappropriate episodes of laughter, crying, or both without an apparent motivating stimulus or in response to stimuli that would not have elicited such an emotional response before the onset of the underlying disease. During these episodes, patients have difficulty controlling their emotional expression according to the contextual information. In contrast, patients with mood disorders have a pervasive and sustained change in their emotional experience and thus exhibit spells of laughter or crying because of an underlying mania or depression. This article focuses on the clinical presentation, diagnosis, prevalence, and proposed pathophysiological mechanisms of and available treatment options for this clinical phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy*
  • Crying*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Laughter*
  • Treatment Outcome