uncontrollable emotion

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New member
Oct 19, 2007
Dad has just been diagnosed with ALS. He's 73. As all of you have experienced in your lives, we are devastated.

Dad was one of those 'old-school' guys who never showed emotion, no matter what the circumstance. Lately, however, he is prone to fits of uncontrollable crying at times when you'd least expect it. We know it's part of ALS and we make sure we're there for him when he's overcome by it.

My question is this:

Is it normal for the one afflicted to react irrationally or unpredictably (besides the crying) to certain situations? Without being too specific, Dad recently 'lost it' on one of my brothers in a manner which was completely out of character for him. Dad's reaction to my brother seemed angry, short-sighted and mean-spirited. Throughout his life, he was never one to lose control.

Can we chalk this one up to an unfortunate side-effect of ALS?
Hi Bill,
I'm sorry you have to be here. I wish I could give you an answer to your questions, but I am afraid I am of no help here. I just wanted to tell you that others are in your situation - myself included - coping with a parent with ALS.
I hope there are others who can help you with this situation you're dealing with - my mother has done just the opposite...she was always very outspoken, and has really withdrawn since her diagnosed.
You'll find great support and friends here.
God bless you and your family.
Hi Bill,

I'm sorry you are going through this. I'm sure others who have experienced this will offer their help. My thought is, it could be depression which an SSRI might be of great help. My husband never seemed depressed but as the disease progressed and the loss of function became great Celexia took the edge off of his frustration. Also, sometimes frontal lobe dementia comes with ALS and can have some of the symptoms you described. Find a good doctor that is wise to ALS and hopefully they will help get these problems under control.

Take care.
Thanks for your words of support.

I'm completely new to this and have no idea what any of the shortforms stand for. What is SSRI?
Hi Bill. Sorry you have to be here with us. Has your dad registered with the ALS Society of Ont? They have a free book called a Manual for Living with ALS. I believe it is downloadable at their site. It explains the changes and stages the newly diagnosed can go through. Anger is one of them. If it lasts long or he becomes violent then it is a problem to be dealt with but until then it's pretty normal.
my mother in law has always been very outspoken as well, some even describe her as fiesty. we recently had her first (and last) appointment at the neuromuscular disease center where she had her first experience seeing patients who were at more advanced stages of the disease. In short, she was horrified. She tried to light up a cigarette in the waiting room, tried to bite her husband when he took it away from her, and then she insisted on leaving, and refuses to go back to the clinic at all.

now, from stories my husband tells me of her growing up, this behavior is somewhat normal for her when she is upset, but i've never personally witnessed it in my 14 years of being in this family.

i've never heard of the dementia that someone described earlier in this thread....does anyone have a link to more information on ALS related dementia?
Hi, Bill. So sorry to hear about your dad. How devastating for the family. I will never forget the feeling when we went through the same thing. My life changed completely. May God bless each one of you.


Absolutely! Emotions run amok, especially with bulbar onset. A mixture of dextromethorphan and quinidine restores control somewhat.

Thank you all.

Dad has a meeting with specialists on Friday in Toronto. My brothers and I are going with him and will have a chance to meet the 'team'. I expect we'll have a chance to ask them some questions.

Help me with this...

What should I be asking of them? I will carefully consider any suggestions you make, as I want to make the most of this meeting. We're traveling from across Ontario to be with Dad, so the opportunity won't arise again the way it will Friday.

Please post your questions. I'd appreciate your assistance.

I'm relatively new to this forum and have found this thread reassuring. my mum was diagnosed with bulbar onset MND in January and is now in a hospice in advanced stage of this horrible disease.

Her emotions are extreme in that she howls her eyes out at the slightest thing. It's so difficult watching her go through this and there is nothing we can do to help or consol her.

She is having difficulty using her lightwriter to communicate as her eyesight is now failing (double vision) and the frustration this causes distresses her so much that she ends up in tears several times a day.

Bill, so sorry to hear about your dad, I completely understand what you are going through and any help/advice anyone can give would be much appreciated.
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