simple infections can trigger worsening of psychiatric symptoms


"PANDAS" is an acronym for "Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections."

The term PANDAS is generally used to describe a subgroup of children who have either a tic disorder (such as Tourette's Syndrome) or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and whose tics, obsessions, and/or compulsions typically worsen dramatically following streptococcal infections or children who have no prior history or tics, obsessions, and compulsions but who suddenly "explode" in symptoms following a Group A ß-hemolytic streptococcal infection.
What parents refer to as "strep throat" is one form of streptococcal infection. In some cases, parents may be aware that their child had a strep throat in the recent past, but in other cases, the child may have (or have had) a strep infection without it being detected.
While research has focused on bacterial infections, there are clinical reports of viral infections also being associated with acute onset or dramatic exacerbation of OCD or Tourette's Syndrome. There are also clinical reports that suggest that it may not just be tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms that are acutely worsened. Some reports also suggest that children or teens who have this PANDAS problem may also experience acute-onset or worsening of separation anxiety and mood problems, and that PANDAS may also be linked to ADHD.
PANDAS is thought to represent a type of auto-immune problem: instead of the body's antibodies fighting an infection, they attack the healthy cells in the basal ganglia of the brain, causing the acute worsening of symptoms.


The research on PANDAS is considered controversial or contentious. From a practical standpoint, however, if a student's parent tells you that their child is a "PANDAS" child, then use that information to expect that if the child has been ill or has an infection (including an ear infection or sinus infection), they may have many more symptoms and much more severe symptoms of tics, obsessions, compulsions, depression, and anxiety (if they were already prone to those problems).








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