What is PANDAS?

Blog-What is PANDAS

Some people endure daily obsessions or compulsions or both to some degree. You can have them from mild to wild, some people are severely debilitated and can’t even get out of their house because they must go through rituals for hours and hours.

PANDAS is a fairly unknown and quite common cause of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). So as with many things that we see at Amen Clinics, our number one question is always, “When did it start?”

What is PANDAS?

PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) occurs when a strep infection triggers a misdirected immune response that results in inflammation on a child’s brain.

In turn, the child quickly begins to exhibit life changing symptoms such as OCD, anxiety, tics, personality changes, decline in math and handwriting abilities, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating, and more.

How Many Children Are Affected?

It is estimated that PANDAS/PANS affects as many as 1 in 200 children.

What Are the Criteria for PANDAS?

The hallmark trait for PANDAS is sudden acute and debilitating onset of intense anxiety and mood lability accompanied by obsessive compulsive-like issues and/or tics in association with a streptococcal-A (GABHS) infection that has occurred immediately prior to the symptoms. In some instances, the onset will be 4 to 6 months after a strep infection because the antibiotics did not fully eradicate the bacteria.

When strep cannot be linked to the onset of symptoms, the NIMH states one should look into the possibility of PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndromes).

What Can PANDAS Do?

PANDAS is an autoimmune overreaction and it can cause acute severe behavior change that doesn’t go away. It’s not temporary. This can stick around. They’re antibodies against dopamine receptors, actual neural tissue. If your body is attacking your brain, you can have dramatic problems with your brain like OCD.

Are There Multiple Types of PANDAS?

Yes, there’s also another version call PANS which is very similar but it might not be strep that does it. Dr. Filidei, our Director of Functional and Integrative Medicine at Amen Clinics says, “there’s a dramatic, very high likelihood that the same process is going on with a lot of mental health conditions like Lyme, etc, where this immune reaction is misdirected against your brain. Again, it can be demonstrated. So we’re looking at immune reactions against the brain that can have dramatics impacts in how you feel.”

Can It Be Treated?

Yes, the longer you’ve had it, the harder it is to reverse but there are ways to treat it. It’s not simple but there are methods, intravenous, like IVIG, plasmapheresis, they actually take the antibodies out of your blood and there are some natural treatments as well. This is not likely going to be on the radar screen of most mental health doctors and yet it’s a huge problem for the person with it because they’re likely to be misdiagnosed.

We Can Help

At the Amen Clinics, we can help you and your loved ones overcome OCD, PANDAS, addictions, memory issues, brain fog, and other emotional and cognitive issues. If you are ready to regain control over your life or help a loved one do the same, give us a call at 1-888-288-9834 or click here to ask a question.


  1. My husband has a blinking tic. When our boys were younger they had different subtle tics on and off. My oldest is now in college and he is always doing some kind of ritual where he does the sign of the cross and then points up (as to heaven). I worried bc I know it is something that he cannot stop. I thought it may be hereditary. Could it be? Any suggestions to help ease this anxiety? Thx

    Comment by Colleen Spivey — February 28, 2018 @ 5:28 AM

  2. What if autoimmune issues are actually ongoing infections? Our existing tests for infections may not be accurate, or we may not even be aware of possible infections. The worst thing we could do – if this is the cause – would be to give steroids.

    Comment by Paula Carnes — February 28, 2018 @ 2:11 PM

  3. My daughter was diagnosed with PANDAS 9 years ago. She doesn’t have OCD but she does have anxiety and an eating disorder. At the time there was no test available to see if the diagnoses was corrected there was no treatment. Is there a blood test now or how do we know if the PANDAS diagnosis was correct. IS PANDAS now an accepted disease? At the time of her diagnosis there was a huge debate on whether or not it was even real. thanks for any help you can give sally

    Comment by sally oban — March 2, 2018 @ 8:17 AM

  4. My d is 20 now and the dr. who diagnosed her said she would outgrow PANDAS as she reached adulthood is that not true? Although she doesn’t have OCD or a tic disorder and the time of er diagnosis she was hospitalized for seizure like movement. For a week her entire body was jerking and twitching and although she has absence seizures the movements were not seizure related. She was given an MRI 9 months later and she had a choroid plexus papilloma but it was an incidental finding and was not tied to the twitching at all.

    Comment by sally oban — March 2, 2018 @ 8:25 AM

  5. Check for mould ppl.
    We almost died.
    Scariest time of our lives.
    It was hidden in the walls everywhere.
    Check for mould in your appartment s… It has forever changed my outlook on life. Not 4 the better.

    Comment by Julie Letourneau — May 24, 2018 @ 12:37 AM

  6. I bow my head and say grace over every meal..take dr AMEN’s brain test use it to help you….my prayers go with you…I charge angels to protect you wherever you go. Love and LIGHT…

    Comment by Pam — June 8, 2018 @ 12:56 PM

  7. Sally- most kids with pandas do not have the typical OCD many think of. Many kids have intrusive thoughts that are also considered an OCD. The eating disorder may very well be connected to that.

    Comment by Jaime — June 14, 2018 @ 3:56 PM

  8. My son had the strep infection, impetigo. Does it matter what strep infection they had?

    Comment by Shilouh — December 9, 2018 @ 3:12 PM

  9. Who and how do you test for mold?

    Comment by Beverly Volpone — February 18, 2019 @ 5:16 AM

  10. There is very little discussion about the role of AMPA in behavioral disorders. It is the primary metabolite of glyphosate, and happens to be an agonist for the AMPA receptor mimicking glutamate. It is also relatively ubiquitous in the food chain.

    Comment by Paul T Manza, — February 18, 2019 @ 8:08 AM

  11. I saw a special on T.V. about a woman who met a man on a plane who works in mold removal!! He heard her story & offered to help her & her family. Her son was 4yrs old & regressing & her husband went from a financial advisor to a guy who couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast!! They lived in the home for a total of 6yrs, I think. But, the problem was behind the wall after they had a leak fixed 2yrs earlier. It can be very serious!! I would definitely call someone in mold repair!! Good luck!!

    Comment by Adrienne — February 18, 2019 @ 1:06 PM

  12. My daughter was diagnosed by the NIH 5 years ago with pandas. We flew to Bethesda, Maryland and she was tested in house for a week. We got a diagnosis and she was put on antibiotics for close to a year. While many of her symptoms discontinued, she developed OCD and Anxiety, for which she received Cognitive Behavior Therapy through UCLA. Insurance companies don’t really acknowledge and pay for treatment, much was out of pocket for us. There is an excellent book titled Saving Sammy, which was written 20 years ago by a mom who had a son diagnosed with the condition after bring out of school for almost 4 months due to him manifesting almost every symptom known to Pandas and Pans. There are support groups and more doctors are acknowledging the condition as REAL…just make sure to do your research and find a DR familiar with the condition. We were also worried about an eating disorder, but she has just gained 7 pounds when I started buying her whatever she felt in the mood to eat (healthy items) such as burritos and sushi. Her health at this point (she is 12) is more important than her compliance. Hope this helps anyone.

    Comment by Heidi — February 19, 2019 @ 11:01 AM

  13. Moleculera Labs offers a test called the Cunningham Panel

    Comment by Jodi — May 15, 2019 @ 9:58 PM

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