PANS & PANDAS
Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) is a diagnosis that is given to children who have a dramatic onset - in 1 to 3 days - of neuropsychiatric symptoms including obsessive compulsive disorder and tics. Children may become moody, irritable and anxious and have difficulty with schoolwork. The cause of PANS is unknown in most cases, but is thought to be triggered by infections, metabolic disturbances, and other inflammatory reactions that impact the brain. At the CAC, we do not diagnose PANS/PANDAS so parents whose child has a dramatic onset of OCD, suddenly restricts their food intake, exhibits tics and/or is also experiencing sudden severe neuropsychiatric conditions – anxiety, irritability, uncontrolled emotions, and/or depression – should first speak to their pediatrician who can refer their child to an appropriate medical physician for an evaluation. If you need further information, please read the NIMH website overview or refer to the PANDAS Physician Network website. There remains a degree of controversy in the medical field as to the legitimacy of the diagnosis, so some hospitals or centers may be hesitant to diagnose it. Regardless, at CAC we are able to provide cognitive behavioral therapy to address any corresponding rapid onset neuropsychiatric symptoms.
At the Child Anxiety Center we follow the behavioral Treatment Guidelines Released for Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS/PANDAS) established by lead experts from the PANS Research Consortium. This will require coordination of care with your child's physicians, their school, and any other behavioral health care providers. Evidence-based therapy for PANS/PANDAS includes cognitive behavioral therapy (specifically exposures and response prevention) along with parent management training. Depending on severity it may also require medication management delivered by a psychiatrist.