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Resources to Help Kids Thrive Newsletter

PANS and PANDAS in Young Children

A weekly update of content from childmind.org featuring parenting advice, in-depth articles, and the latest thinking on children’s mental health and learning disorders.

March 7, 2023

OCD is a disorder that usually develops gradually. But sometimes OCD symptoms come on suddenly after a child has had an infection. This happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells. It’s called PANDAS or PANS, depending on whether the triggering infection was strep (usually) or something else, like Lyme disease or the flu.

This week we explore the symptoms of PANS and PANDAS, which include not only severe OCD but eating restriction, tics, rage, and depression — in children as young as three or four— and how it’s treated. We also look at when OCD is easy to miss because it’s not visible, kids who are plagued by “bad thoughts,” and how to recognize OCD in the classroom.

Related Resources

What are PANDAS and PANS?

When a child has sudden, severe OCD and other disturbing symptoms following an infection, usually strep.


Complete Guide to PANS and PANDAS

Step-by-step information from diagnosis to treatment for kids with sudden onset OCD and other confusing symptoms.


What Does OCD Look Like in the Classroom?

Signs that a child may be struggling with OCD, even if they are hiding their anxiety.


Mental Compulsions and “Pure O” OCD

Almost all kids with OCD experience compulsions, but some kinds are easy to miss.


How to Help Kids Worried About 'Bad Thoughts'

Children sometimes feel guilty about disturbing thoughts and can't stop confessing.


When OCD Triggers Suicidal Thoughts

How a form of OCD can be mistaken for being suicidal.


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