What Are PANDAS and PANS?

PANDAS and PANS are two names for a mental health condition known as acute-onset OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Normally, kids with OCD develop the disorder slowly. But in acute-onset OCD, their symptoms show up suddenly.

Parents of kids with acute-onset OCD say that their symptoms appear “overnight” or “out of the blue.” Children with acute-onset OCD suddenly start compulsive rituals like washing their hands nonstop or opening and closing a door over and over. They might have trouble eating, sleeping and doing schoolwork like math, reading or writing. They can become very anxious, have panic attacks or even starting thinking about suicide. In acute-onset OCD, the child shows no signs of trouble until all the symptoms start at once.

There is debate among experts about what causes acute-onset OCD. Originally, doctors thought that it was a reaction to a bacterial infection called strep. The disorder was named PANDAS for that reason. PANDAS stands for “pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus.” However, some scientists do not think there is enough evidence that strep really causes the disorder. So in 2010, it was renamed PANS, “pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome.” It is still not certain whether acute-onset OCD is caused by strep, some other infection or something else altogether.

Acute-onset OCD is often treated with antibiotics. The idea is that getting rid of any underlying infection will stop the OCD symptoms. Some doctors disagree because it is not certain that the symptoms are caused by an infection. They think it is better to treat acute-onset OCD the same way as regular OCD, with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Click here to read the full article from Child Mind Insitute.