PANS & PANDAS Symptoms and Diagnosis: A Guide

When a child is experiencing sudden, unexplained mood swings, difficulty concentrating, or obsessive behaviors, parents may be left feeling both frustrated and concerned. Many families may not be aware that certain conditions like Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) or Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) could be responsible for their child’s sudden uncharacteristic behavior. Thankfully, there are professionals who can help shed light on these conditions and advise on appropriate treatments. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a deeper dive into PANS and PANDAS, including their symptoms, diagnosis, and the role of an integrative psychiatrist.

What are PANS and PANDAS?


Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) is a condition in which children experience an abrupt and damaging change to their mental health and behavior. This change usually arises after infections such as the flu, mycoplasma pneumonia, or Lyme disease. The symptoms of PANS can severely impact a child’s daily functioning and can be quite debilitating.


Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) is a subset of PANS. It occurs when streptococcal (strep) infections trigger an autoimmune response that leads to inflammation of the brain. This inflammation results in neuropsychiatric symptoms such as obsessive-compulsive behaviors, mood swings, and other unusual behaviors.

Symptoms of PANS and PANDAS

The symptoms typically associated with PANS and PANDAS can be diverse and often overlap. Some common symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive behaviors (OCD).
  • Uncontrollable emotional outbursts, irritability, and mood swings.
  • Anxiety and separation anxiety.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as memory and concentration issues.
  • Motor abnormalities, including tics and unusual hand or body gestures.
  • Sensory abnormalities, such as sensitivity to light, sound, or touch.
  • Changes in handwriting.

How are PANS and PANDAS Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of PANS and PANDAS can be challenging, as there is no single diagnostic test for these conditions. Many healthcare professionals rely on a combination of the patient’s medical history, evaluation of symptoms, and laboratory tests to make a diagnosis. Some tests include screening for infections, evaluating the immune system, and assessing neurological and psychiatric symptoms. They may also consider ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as autoimmune disorders or neurological disorders.

Role of an Integrative Psychiatrist

The integrative psychiatrists in NYC are medical professional who combines traditional psychiatric practices with complementary and alternative therapies to treat mental health conditions. They play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of PANS and PANDAS, as they can provide a holistic approach that addresses the underlying causes of these conditions.

Integrative psychiatrists may use various techniques such as nutritional therapy, supplementation, mindfulness practices, and psychodynamic therapy to help children with PANS and PANDAS manage their symptoms. So, if you suspect that your child may have PANS or PANDAS, it’s essential to seek the help of a qualified integrative psychiatrist who can provide tailored treatment options for your child.

In Conclusion

Understanding PANS and PANDAS can help parents and caregivers identify and address the complex emotional and behavioral changes in their children. It’s critical to seek the guidance of experienced professionals, such as an integrative psychiatrist, to make sure your child receives the appropriate care and support needed to overcome these challenges. By embracing a comprehensive approach, you can help your child manage their symptoms and enhance their overall well-being. Remember, early diagnosis and intervention are key to achieving the best outcomes for children with PANS and PANDAS.

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