102: Why “My Kid is Acting Crazy” Might be PANS/PANDAS with Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Some doctors say the whole idea of PANS/PANDAS is a hoax.

But when you talk to practitioners who have brought children back to being themselves again after late-onset ADD, unexplained rages or mental confusion that no one can diagnose — it’s clear that this mental and physical diagnosis is not only real but a miracle for many families.

I sat down with Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a rockstar pediatric psychologist, to get the scoop for you on what PANS/PANDAS looks like, and why it might be the root cause of a host of very strange and concerning symptoms.

We’ll cover:

  • What PANS/PANDAS is and how it differs from other behavioral and physiological struggles kids might have.
  • Surprising issues that are in the mental health category (that many people think of as purely physical ailments)
  • Symptoms that should cause you to suspect PANS/PANDAS
  • Why parents need to be empowered to be their own health detectives
  • The varied and individual root cause treatment approaches to get the nervous system to calm down and reduce inflammation
  • The absolutely critical dietary changes a child suffering from PANS/PANDAS needs

We parents can’t possibly know everything, but we do need to know a little bit about everything so that if something crazy happens to our kids, we can find the right expert to help us get them back to health.

PANS/PANDAS is a big deal right now because way too many medical doctors aren’t trained to look for it, and it’s very difficult to diagnose. But savvy parents who have watched this interview will feel in their gut when something is wrong, and you may just save your child’s future (or that of a neighbor or friend) just because you knew to ask: Could it possibly be PANS or PANDAS?

Can’t see the video? View it on YouTube here.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

PANS/PANDAS Video Time Stamps

  • 0:08: I’m here on the Healthy Parenting Connector today with Dr. Rosann Capanna-Hodge, a repeat guest, to talk about PANS and PANDAS.


  • 1:07: Dr. Capanna-Hodge describes what PANS and PANDAS are and describes some of the symptoms. They’re caused by an incorrect immune response to an infection which results in the sudden onset of a host of mental health issues and regressions.
  • 2:50: PANS and PANDAS are both increasing dramatically. Right now it’s about 1 out of every 150-200 kids. There are only a few hundred doctors trained in treating this in the US.
  • 3:23: PANDAS is triggered specifically by strep infections whereas PANS can be triggered by any infection. Strep, the flu, Lyme disease, Epstein Barr are some of the most common.

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How do You Get Diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS?

  • 4:08: It’s a really difficult disease to diagnose and deal with. Kids often end up being diagnosed with psychiatric problems, but that isn’t the root problem.
  • 5:58: Dr. Capanna-Hodge is passionate about finding answers for parents so they can help their children.
  • 7:07: There’s a lot of controversy around PANS and PANDAS regarding how to diagnose and treat. It’s similar to what you might have heard about with Lyme disease.
  • 8:17: Dr. Capanna-Hodge describes some of what happens when someone is infected with Lyme disease.

When you know something isn’t right and it’s significant, you need to seek help as quickly as you can. -Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

  • 11:08: We go over a few common stories of the process to get diagnosed with Lyme, PANS, or PANDAS and how the connection can get lost.

Parents need to trust their instinct and dig. -Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

  • 13:19: Dr. Capanna-Hodge lists a few more infections and other risk factors for PANS and PANDAS.
  • 14:11: Strep is tricky. Dogs and people can carry it without being symptomatic, but it can cause all kinds of other problems.
  • 14:56: You don’t have to have extreme behaviors to have PANS or PANDAS. You can heal your symptoms to a degree and still flare occasionally from stress or infection.

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PANS/PANDAS Treatment Options

  • 16:42: We get into the treatment options. It’s very patient-specific. Optimizing nutrition and detox are great places to start while seeking out a practitioner to customize further treatment.
  • 17:08: Most people who have chronic conditions have genetic mutations that interfere with detoxification and nervous system regulation. MTHFR is the most common.
  • 18:27: There’s solid research backing the use of certain herbs for the treatment of Lyme.

The two biggest barriers to healing for many people are detoxification and an overstimulated nervous system. -Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

  • 20:40: The onset of PANS and PANDAS is traumatic and frightening for families. It’s scary to see your child suffering and not get the help they need, but there is hope. If you suspect your child has Lyme, PANS, or PANDAS, you should seek out a specialist as soon as possible.
  • 20:40 Aspire and PANDASnetwork.org are good places to find providers. Dr. Capanna-Hodge shares some tips and questions to ask when looking for a doctor.
  • 23:29: We talk about how nutrition plays into healing and prevention. Choose foods that reduce inflammation and avoid any inflammatory foods like wheat, dairy, and sugar.

Good nutrition is one of the biggest things parents can do to support their child. -Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

  • 24:31: People don’t know how to support someone through a severe mental health crisis like PANS and PANDAS. Many parents lose their support system. If you know someone who could use support, reach out to them.
  • 26:00: There is hope! Kids can heal from this. Find a qualified practitioner and read the book Dr. Capanna-Hodge contributed to if you suspect you have a child with PANS or PANDAS.

Resources We Mention for Parents

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Dr Roseann Capanna-HodgeDr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has become a well-known media voice for kids’ mental health, but it wasn’t always that way. She started out her career as a traditionally trained as a psychologist and professional counselor until one particular patient changed the trajectory of her practice forever. Her centers in Connecticut now provide integrative mental health support and holistic therapies to bring kids from stressed out messes to happy and focused, and she’s the co-author of “Brain Under Attack,” a resource guide about PANS/PANDAS. She’s an expert in getting to the bottom of some of the toughest pediatric mental health cases out there and has brought hope to thousands of parents over the last 25 years.

Why is my child crazy? Could it be PANS/PANDAS?

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

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