December 17, 2023

Help me get my kid back! An integrative approach to PANS/PANDAS

Is your child struggling with acute symptoms such as anxiety, ocd, depression, sleep disturbance, hyperactivity, decline in school performance and you just want your them back? Read here about an integrative approach to these symptoms.

Both PANS/PANDAS can have a profound impact on a child’s life. These disorders often result in significant distress and impairment in daily functioning. Children with PANDAS or PANS may struggle academically, socially, and emotionally. They may have difficulty in school, experience problems with relationships, and exhibit challenging behaviors at home.

So, your kid suddenly has become “not your kid.” Their behavior has suddenly changed. They might have developed some OCD (obsession and compulsion disorder) like behaviors such as frequent hand washing, turning off lights, intrusive thoughts or repetitive movements or sounds.

Maybe they are having difficulty sleeping, you have noticed a decline in their school work, they have developed some separation anxiety, food refusal, abdominal pain, anxiety, irritability, uncontrolled emotions, or depression?

Maybe they have been diagnosed as autistic or having ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)?

Maybe you are just looking for a reason for their new or pre-existing diagnosis?

Maybe you just want your child back??

Maybe you, as the parent, are the one being blamed for your child’s behavior?

Let’s talk a little about a condition known as PANS/PANDAS….


Ok so it sounds like some disease from fluffy, cute panda bears?!? The truth is, PANS/PANDAS is a complicated condition, the diagnosis is difficult and the treatment is complex. Let’s first give you a definition of each…

PANS – pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome

PANDAS – pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated
with streptococcal infection

As you can see from above PANS is not associated with strep infection where as PANDAS is associated with strep infection. So, if strep causes PANDAS what causes PANS?

Other infections and toxins can be the trigger for PANS or PANDAS such as mycoplasma, lyme and co-infections, and toxicants such as heavy metals, molds, and glyphosate or pesticide exposure.

There is actually a lot of overlap between these two conditions…but the main diagnostic criteria difference is the presence of strep infection at some point.


The symptoms of PANS/PANDAS have a lot of overlap. The main difference is the presence of streptococcal A infection and/or the presence of anti-streptococcal antibodies. Here is a non-exhaustive list of overlapping symptoms…

  • OCD

*obsessions: thoughts – intrusive thoughts

*compulsions: behavior – something they can control

  • TICS
  • Acute onset
  • ADHD like behavior
  • Impaired eating
  • sleep disturbance (insomnia, night terrors)
  • urinary frequency or accidents
  • learning difficulties
  • lack in concentration
  • difficulty memorizing
  • sensory impairments
  • hallucinations
  • behavioral regression
  • hyperactivity
  • depression
  • irritability
  • disordered eating (food restriction)
  • history of repeat UTI’s or sinusitis

Look alike PANS/PANDAS conditions:

There are some conditions that could look like PANS/PANDAS such as …

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (non-PANDAS/PANS)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Sydenham’s chorea (acute rheumatic fever)
  • Abuse and/or trauma
  • Medications, recreational drugs
  • Tumor

What is the treatment for PANS/PANDAS?

As mentioned earlier, PANS/PANDAS is a complex process and the treatment is nothing short of just that…complex. Conventional treatment involves using antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDS, immunotherapy, antidepressants, and surgical intervention.

An integrative approach, integrates conventional and non-conventional therapies. An integrative practitioner will use conventional therapies when needed but also places an emphasis on finding and removing triggers such as infections, toxicants like mold, heavy metals, and pesticides.

An integrative practitioner knows that the way out of this “brain problem” is through modulating the immune system with rebalancing of the microbiome to calm the neuroinflammation and rebuild those “fences” to control future inflammation.

The environment is a huge trigger so adjusting the environment is key. Supporting the immune system and recognizing these kids are in an immune depleted state, and providing protection to the areas that are susceptible to triggers.

An integrative approach works to bring balance back to the body so the child has the best chance of living a normal, independent, happy life. The nature of this condition involves a wax and wane of symptoms. A practitioner that recognizes this pattern can give you the tools you need to adjust for ups and downs associated with PANS/PANDAS.

“It’s impossible to know the feeling of losing a child, and have that child sitting right in front of you.”

If you are dealing with a child or adolescent who has suddenly declined in their health or school performance and you are unsure what is going on, schedule a FREE consult here to discuss how we can help!   

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