A few weeks after my 6th birthday, I went to bed one night a happy, healthy child, and I woke up the next morning riddled with anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), tics, and a laundry list of psychiatric symptoms I’d never experienced before. I couldn’t sit still for more than a few seconds without moving my body; I could barely write my own name, and I was so afraid of choking that I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva. I saw doctors, therapists, psychiatrists and behavior specialists, and none of them could provide a diagnosis, other than “anxiety.”
I did have anxiety. I cried most of the day because the entire world felt like it was crashing down on me. But there was something else.
I had PANDAS: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infections. PANDAS and its sister diagnosis PANS (Post-infectious Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) are infection-mediated neuropsychiatric disorders. That means that when an infection develops in the body, the immune system sends a misdirected immune response to the brain. It causes inflammation in the areas of the brain responsible for emotions, behavior, sleep and impulse control. (See link for article)
While PANDAS is associated with strep, PANS includes tick-borne illness infections. One Lyme literate doctor in Wisconsin has stated that 80% of his PANS patients have Lyme/MSIDS.