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Neuroinflammation Natural Treatment: Psychotherapy Methods that Help

Neuroinflammation Natural Treatment Psychotherapy Methods that Help
Picture of Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) can be incredibly challenging for both children and their families. 

As a PANS parent and having helped thousands of children and adults affected by neuroinflammation, creating a lifestyle that counters inflammation in the brain and body is key for mental and physical health. Without prioritizing detoxification, stress reduction and reducing inflammation, there will be a constant flare cycle. 

One must consider some neuroinflammaton natural treatments in addition to conventional medicines and treatments. That is when most people seek me out, when treatments fail and the child is caught in a flare cycle. 

While medical treatments are crucial in addressing the chronic inflammation and immune response characteristic of these conditions, psychotherapy and brain-based treatments play a significant role in supporting behavior and mental health. 

Here’s a detailed look at various psychotherapy methods that can help manage PANS/PANDAS that emphasize the importance of a holistic approach.

Types of Psychotherapy for PANS/PANDAS


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a structured, time-limited therapy that aims to change patterns of thinking or behavior contributing to a child’s problems. It’s particularly effective in reducing chronic stress, which can exacerbate inflammatory responses and impact brain function.

CBT helps children identify and challenge negative thoughts, replacing them with healthier, more realistic ones. This shift can reduce anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which are common in PANS/PANDAS.

One study by Nadeau et al. (2015) investigated the efficacy of family-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) associated with pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS). Eleven children (ages 4-14, mainly boys) who did not fully respond to antibiotics received CBT either in-person or via web camera. 

All eight participants who completed the treatment showed improvement, with a 49% reduction in OCD symptom severity. Significant decreases were noted in clinician- and parent-rated impairments. The benefits were maintained at follow-up, indicating the potential effectiveness of family-based CBT for PANS-related OCD

Practical Tips to Make CBT Work for Parents

  • Regular Practice: Encourage your child to practice CBT techniques regularly. Consistency is vital to seeing improvement.
  • Supportive Environment: Create a supportive environment where your child feels safe to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Professional Guidance: Work with a trained CBT therapist who understands PANS/PANDAS.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Exposure and Response Prevention is a type of CBT designed explicitly for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a frequent symptom in PANS/PANDAS. ERP involves exposing the child to anxiety-provoking situations while preventing the usual compulsive response.

ERP helps reduce the compulsions and anxiety associated with PANS/PANDAS by gradually desensitizing the child to their fears. Over time, this can reduce the overall levels of inflammation and improve cognitive function.

A separate study evaluated the effectiveness of family-based ERP therapy for children with PANDAS, a condition marked by the sudden onset of OCD symptoms following streptococcal infections. Twelve children received ERP therapy, leading to significant reductions in OCD severity and improved functional outcomes (Thienemann et al., 2017). 

Key Features of ERP

  • Gradual Exposure: Start with less intimidating ones and gradually move to more challenging ones.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to encourage your child’s progress.
  • Collaborative Approach: Work closely with a therapist to ensure the ERP plan is tailored to your child’s needs.

Parenting Support for Chronic inflammation


Parenting support involves providing parents with the tools and knowledge to effectively manage their child’s condition. This support is crucial as chronic brain inflammation in PANS/PANDAS can impact behavior and mental health, making parenting more challenging.

It also helps parents understand the link between chronic diseases and behavioral changes. It provides strategies to manage these behaviors and reduce chronic stress, benefiting the child and the family.

Parenting Support Basics

  • Education: Educate yourself about PANS/PANDAS and its impact on behavior and mental health.
  • Stress Reduction: Implement techniques such as mindfulness or yoga to manage your stress levels.
  • Professional Support: Seek guidance from healthcare providers or support groups specializing in PANS/PANDAS.

Behavior Therapy

Key Components of Behavioral Shaping

Behavior therapy focuses on changing unhealthy behaviors through reinforcement strategies. In the context of PANS/PANDAS, behavior therapy can address issues like aggression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Behavior therapy can help manage the behavioral symptoms of PANS/PANDAS by reinforcing positive behaviors and reducing negative ones. This approach can improve brain health and overall well-being.

Elements of Behavior Therapy 

  • Consistent Routine: Establish a consistent daily routine to provide structure and predictability for your child.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to encourage desirable behaviors.
  • Therapeutic Support: Work with a therapist who is experienced in behavior therapy for PANS/PANDAS.

Supporting children with PANS/PANDAS requires a comprehensive approach that includes physical treatment and psychotherapy. By incorporating CBT, ERP, parenting support, and behavior therapy, parents can help manage their child’s condition more effectively. 

This holistic strategy addresses the chronic inflammation and immune response and supports mental and behavioral health, leading to improved outcomes and a better quality of life for the entire family.

 

Remember, each child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Therefore, working closely with healthcare providers and therapists is essential to tailor the approach to your child’s needs. The good news is that with the proper support and interventions, children with PANS/PANDAS can thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

Empower your child and help them achieve a calm brain without relying on medication. Download the Natural Pans/Pandas Calm Brain Kit today.

What are the anti-inflammatory properties of natural remedies for PANS/PANDAS?

Natural remedies with anti-inflammatory properties can help manage symptoms of PANS/PANDAS by reducing chronic inflammation. These include green tea, antioxidants, and fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods can lower markers of inflammation and support overall brain health.

How does a Mediterranean diet benefit children with PANS/PANDAS?

A Mediterranean diet, which includes whole grains, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, and fatty fish, has significant anti-inflammatory effects. This diet can help reduce systemic inflammation and improve cognitive function, providing health benefits for children with PANS/PANDAS.

Can regular exercise help with the symptoms of PANS/PANDAS?

Regular exercise is beneficial as it can reduce chronic stress and improve the body’s immune response. Exercise also promotes the release of anti-inflammatory substances in the body, which can help reduce inflammatory markers and support better brain function.

What role do magnesium and Vitamin D play in managing PANS/PANDAS?

Magnesium and Vitamin D are crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. Adequate vitamin D levels can reduce inflammatory responses and support the healing of chronic brain inflammation. A simple blood test can determine if your child needs supplementation.

How can chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis affect PANS/PANDAS?

Chronic inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis are characterized by persistent inflammatory responses. These conditions can exacerbate the symptoms of PANS/PANDAS by increasing overall levels of inflammation in the body.

What are some anti-inflammatory foods that can help reduce symptoms?

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, and fatty fish into your child’s diet can help manage inflammation. Foods rich in vitamin E, found in nuts and seeds, and coconut oil also have anti-inflammatory compounds that can support brain health.

Why is avoiding ultra-processed foods in a child's diet with PANS/PANDAS essential?

Ultra-processed foods can increase inflammatory markers and negatively impact cognitive function. These foods often contain high levels of sugar intake, unhealthy fats, and additives, which can worsen chronic inflammation and brain fog.

How does oxidative stress relate to PANS/PANDAS?

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. This stress can damage the brain and glial cells, contributing to the chronic inflammation seen in PANS/PANDAS. Antioxidants in green tea, citrus fruits, and other anti-inflammatory foods can help mitigate this damage.

Can lifestyle changes like stress reduction and a healthy diet improve PANS/PANDAS symptoms?

Absolutely. Stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness and a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory compounds can significantly reduce systemic inflammation and improve overall brain function. These lifestyle changes are essential for effectively managing the symptoms of PANS/PANDAS.

What is the significance of the blood-brain barrier in PANS/PANDAS?

The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from harmful substances in the bloodstream. In PANS/PANDAS, chronic inflammation can compromise this barrier, allowing immune cells to attack brain tissue. Strengthening this barrier through a healthy diet and anti-inflammatory foods can help protect against further brain damage.

Citations

Nadeau, J. M., Jordan, C., Selles, R. R., Wu, M. S., King, M. A., Patel, P. R., Hanks, C. E., Arnold, E. B., Lewin, A. B., Murphy, T. K., & Storch, E. A. (2015). A Pilot Trial of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Augmentation of Antibiotic Treatment in Youth with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome-Related Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 25(4), 337–343. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2014.0149

Thienemann, M., Murphy, T., Leckman, J., Shaw, R., Williams, K., Kapphahn, C., Frankovich, J., Geller, D., Bernstein, G., Chang, K., Elia, J., & Swedo, S. (2017). Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part I—Psychiatric and Behavioral Interventions. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 27(7), 566–573. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2016.0145

Dr. Roseann is a mental health expert in PANS/PANDAS who frequently is in the media:

 

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen? 

Dr. Roseann and her team are all about science-backed solutions, so you are in the right place! 

Ready to Take Path Toward Science-Backed Solutions to Help Your Child Do Better in School, Home, and Life? Get the Self-Regulation Mastery Blueprint

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Licensed Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including The Mel Robbins Show, CBS, NBC, PIX11 NYC, Today, FORBES, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Women’s Day, Healthline, CNET, Parade Magazine and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She coined the terms, “Re-entry panic syndrome” and “eco-anxiety” and is a frequent contributor to media on mental health. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has three decades of experience in working with children, teens and their families with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, concussion, dyslexia and learning disability, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and mood disorder, Lyme Disease, and PANS/PANDAS using science-backed natural mental health solutions such as supplements, magnesium, nutrition, QEEG Brain maps, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy and other non-medication approaches. 

She is the author of three bestselling books, It’s Gonna Be OK!: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child's Mental Health, The Teletherapy Toolkit, and Brain Under Attack. Dr. Roseann is known for offering a message of hope through science-endorsed methods that promote a calm brain. 

Her trademarked BrainBehaviorResetⓇ Program and It’s Gonna be OK!Ⓡ Podcast has been a cornerstone for thousands of parents facing mental health, behavioral or neurodevelopmental challenges.

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, Neurotastic™Brain Formulas and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2024

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