Thursday, March 8, 2012

Medical mysteries: Was crying caused by man’s severe depression?

Helayne Seidman/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST - Richard Anderson and his wife Rose in their Staten Island home. Richard suffered a severe traumatic brain injury at 47 which developed into uncontrollable crying. A new drug has helped treat his disorder called pseudobulbar affect

Of all the adjustments forced on Rose Anderson and her family, among the hardest was dealing with the crying jags.
Around 9 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2004, while Anderson and her family were crossing the street from a New Jersey beach boardwalk to their hotel, a drunk driver barreled into her husband, Richard. He was flung 26 feet before slamming headfirst onto the pavement.
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A 47-year-old manager for the New York City government, Richard underwent emergency brain surgery and spent three weeks in a coma, followed by nearly two months in the hospital. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that left him with permanent cognitive and speech problems and robbed him of his sense of smell and taste.
“They were preparing me for a lifetime of therapies,” recalled Rose of the weeks her husband spent at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in East Orange, N.J.
But no one prepared the Andersons for Richard’s unpredictable and uncontrollable weeping, which began weeks after the accident and seemed to worsen with time.
“He would cry with almost anyone,” his wife recalled. Thoughts of his dogs, his family or even happy occasions could trigger tears. His teenage daughters found the incidents, which occurred several times a week, almost unbearable.
“As things got better, this shined brighter,” said Richard Anderson, who describes himself as a “very chauvinistic kind of guy” who was mortified by his inability to control his emotions. “It was very upsetting to me to have tears just rolling down my fac....