Pandas are adorable black and white bears. PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections) is a medical condition that children can get after having strep throat, and it can make them act more like a grizzly bear than a panda bear. Here's what every parent needs to know about PANDAS.
How a Child with PANDAS Acts
If your child has PANDAS, he or she may wake up one day and act like a completely different person. Your child may seem totally out of character and be extremely whiny and clingy instead of their usual self. They may suddenly have severe obsessive compulsive disorder and/or a neurological tic that causes them to involuntarily move their body, which are both extremely specific symptoms of PANDAS. When these changes happen immediately after a strep infection, your child may have PANDAS.
Children with PANDAS can just as suddenly seem more like their normal selves again, because PANDAS comes and goes. Because of this, you can expect your child to return to normal, but it's difficult to determine how long the episodes can last from one to the next. It's important to understand, however, that each episode will likely be worse than the previous one. The reason for this is because the molecules in the brain are attacked by antibodies that are triggered by the strep bacteria, which is what causes the neuropsychiatric symptoms. Each attack will cause more damage, which causes each subsequent episode to be more severe.
What Type of Doctors to See
If you think your child has PANDAS, it's important to first take your child to a medical doctor for a strep test. A positive strep test is necessary in reaching a clinical diagnosis of PANDAS rather than a diagnosis of non-strep-related OCD and/or a tic disorder. If your child shows signs of meeting other specific criteria, which includes episodes of sudden onset of neuropsychiatric and/or neurological symptoms, specifically obsessive compulsive disorder and tics, your child will be referred to a neuropsychiatrist or a psychiatrist for mental health services.
Your child's medical doctor will treat the strep infection with an antibiotic. The mental health services will treat your child's PANDAS with behavioral therapy and medication. It's important to understand that taking antibiotics will not prevent PANDAS from occurring, because PANDAS is not caused by the strep bacteria. But because PANDAS is caused by the antibodies that are produced so the body can fight off strep, it is crucial that your child avoid being exposed to strep. Check it out by contacting a medical professional.
As a lifetime sufferer of depression, I have spent a great deal of time in therapy. One thing that I learned early on was the importance of having a good attitude and trying to figure out how to cope with some of the suggestions that my counselors gave me. I realized that when it came to having a good experience, the bulk of the responsibility fell in my lap. I started working hard to take their suggestions in stride and carefully analyze my life and my behavior. This blog is all about improving the counseling process by having a better attitude.