A positive throat culture for strep infection and/or the presence of motoric hyperactivitiy or choreiform movements may help with making the diagnosis. If diagnosed, antibiotics may be given to treat the strep infection along with evidence-based treatments for OCD. The infection can recur, leading to an exacerbation of symptoms necessitating further treatment.

Recent studies have also led to the identification of a related syndrome.10 Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) is diagnosed when a child develops a sudden, abrupt onset of symptoms of OCD and other myriad symptoms. Other common symptoms include increased anxiety, emotional lability, depression, tics, behavioral regression or changes such as increased aggression, irritability or oppositionality or restricted eating, a decline in academic abilities, and sensory or motor abnormalities. PANS is diagnosed based on symptom presentation but is believed to be triggered by infectious agents (not just strep) or non-infectious triggers such as metabolic disorders and environmental factors.

Lata K. McGinn, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in The Bronx, New York.


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