PANS/PANDAS

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A Holistic Approach to Mental Health for Young People

At Integrative Psychiatry Austin, we believe in a holistic approach to mental health for young people, as this helps them on the pathway to healing and resilience. There are many different reasons why children and adolescents need integrated solutions for mental health, and we are here to provide that support. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

Holistic Treatment and Strategies for Recovery

PANS and PANDAS occur when an infection triggers a misdirected immune response, which results in inflammation on a child’s brain. They are severe forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that appear suddenly in children.

What is PANS/PANDAS?

PANS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neurological Syndrome. In short, there is a sudden change in a child’s functioning or a sudden start of psychiatric or behavioral symptoms in a child. PANDAS is a type of PANS in which the sudden start of psychiatric, behavioral and neurological syndrome is because of a Streptococcal infection.

How do you diagnose PANS?

Major criteria:

  • Abrupt and dramatic onset of obsessive compulsive behaviors and/or severely restricted food intake.

Minor criteria (at least 2 of the 7 minor criteria):

  • Anxiety

  • Emotional lability, depression

  • Irritability, aggression, severe oppositional behaviors

  • Developmental and/or behavioral regression

  • Deterioration of school performance

  • Motor/sensory abnormalities (tics, dysraphism)

  • Somatic symptoms (sleep problems, urinary issues, abdominal complaints)

What are the causes of PANS?

We do not know the cause of PANS. We have theories that it is caused by an immune system that starts becoming dysregulated. The effects of the immune system activation start having negative effects on the central nervous system and other areas of the body. The immune system can also become problematic because of several reasons. Toxins, infections, endocrine problems, or sudden psychological stressors can all cause sudden neuropsychiatric symptoms. 

Even though there is no one single confirmatory test for PANS, there are multiple tests that point us to a diagnosis. The diagnosis ultimately is clinical.

We use some lab tests through CPL or a local laboratory. They might include infectious titers, endocrine testing, nutritional testing, tests of inflammation, and standard tests that indicate the status of our body’s various functions. Functional testing like stool testing, food intolerance testing, genetic testing, organic acids testing, or nutritional testing is also considered on a case by case basis.

If it is caught early and there is a clear reason that is discovered, then some children even make 100% recovery. 

PANS is addressed by a team. Each member of the treatment team plays an important role in the recovery of a child. There are three main areas of focus for treatment of PANS: 

  • Immunological modulation
  • Antimicrobial treatment
  • Mental health treatment

Which experts might be involved in the treatment of a child?

Depending on the severity and unique circumstances of the case, some of the disciplines that can be involved in the treatment of a child include:

  • Psychiatrist

  • Rheumatologist

  • Neurologist

  • Immunologist

  • Psychotherapist

  • Functional medicine provider

  • Nutritionist and Herbalist

  • School personnel

  • Learning specialists

  • Occupational and speech therapists



    How do you assemble a team around our child?

    We have relationships with various treatment practitioners in the community and can help guide you in setting up care with some of these disciplines. However, occasionally due to lack of medical resources, we are unable to find a discipline that we would like to have included in our team. Fortunately, resources are ever-changing, and we try our best to keep up with the latest developments. 

    • Lifestyle measures like circadian rhythm support and mindfulness training with children can help build a child’s own resilience. 
    • Food as medicine can be very powerful in children’s health. 
    • We also use nutrients like Magnesium, Chromium, Zinc, and Iron to help make up for any nutritional deficiencies. 
    • We use evidence-based pharmacological measures based on the most recent guidelines. 
    • Acupuncture can be very effective for children, however, if they are nervous of the needles, using some gentle essential oils can help ground them.

    Herbal medicine for children is based on using food as medicine. There are some “kiddie herbs” that can help support children’s development. 

    What other child and adolescent problems do you treat?

    We see children dealing with a wide array of issues. We have treated:

    • Depression

    • Anxiety

    • ADHD

    • Behavioral problems

    • Bipolar disorder

    • Schizophrenia

    • Substance use problems

    • Others

    Dr. Qazi Javed discusses PANS/PANDAS with the Integrative Psychiatry Austin team.

    Diagnoses and Challenges

    TCM and Herbal Approach

    Nutritional and Functional Medicine

    Treatment Principles and Modalities

    Neuropsychological Testing

    Psychotherapy

    Psychotherapy

    Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy

    Whole Person
    Assessment

    Holistic Medicine

    Neuropsychological
    Testing

    Child & Adolescent
    Mental Health

    Psychopharmacology

    Trauma Informed
    Care

    Services

    Holistic Services Tailored For Each Person’s Individual Needs

    • Pharmacology 
    • Academic, Family, Personal Counseling 
    • Nutritional Medicine
    • Neuropsychological Testing

    Learn more about how holistic medicine can help you. Please contact Integrative Psychiatry Austin today to schedule a consultation.

    Schedule a Consultation

    Please contact Integrative Psychiatry Austin today to schedule a consultation.