I’m SCARED of PANDAS

Here’s a funny new acronym — Screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders, also known as SCARED. I discovered it reading this interesting little article called “OCD in Adulthood Traced to Cues in Childhood.” It discusses the proposed idea that “rituals and sensory hypersensitivities in a child may be early warning signs of adult obsessive-compulsive disorder,” which is interesting to me because I have some odd sensory quirks and sensitivities that might not put me in the realm of diagnosis with anything, but are unusual to say the least. The article discusses primarily two studies which explore the (potential) link between OCD and sensory sensitivity.

“Consistent with the results of the first study, recollected childhood oral and tactile sensitivity was positively correlated with results of the OCI-R (r=0.41, P<0.001) in study two. When they controlled for anxiety, they continued to find that the sensitivity was correlated with obsessive-compulsive symptoms beyond their correlation with anxiety.”

What does this mean? For some, could rituals be a way of coping with sensory overload (or even under-stimulation)? This reminds me of tics, which often have physical or environmental triggers. Tic disorders seem to have a stronger established correlation with sensory processing problems than OCD does, but we also know that tic disorders and OCD are more related than we used to think.

The old rule “If it’s a response to a physical feeling, it’s a tic. If it’s a response to a thought or a fear, it’s a compulsion” is hard to apply in this situation. How could we truly connect OCD and sensory issues, when if there’s any sort of direct connection at all, any response to a physical feeling should rightfully be a tic, and not OCD-related (unless it’s Tourettic OCD)?

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2 thoughts on “I’m SCARED of PANDAS

  1. PurplesShade says:

    It’s quite possible there’s a correlation… though it’d need further study to know if it’s causal.
    Something anecdotal that might also be worth considering is that those with autism tend to have sensory overload very easily and they also very frequently develop anxiety disorders.
    If there’s a link, that might be why those two things are both so common for those on the autism spectrum.

    • willitbeok says:

      Yeah, I remembered after making this post that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. We could have things here that just tend to occur at the same time for some other reason — maybe one day we’ll find a link between OCD, TS and other disorders similar to the link we’ve found between OCD and TS. The genetics of these disorders seem very complicated.

      As you say, it’s also interesting to consider the possible connection to autism. I wasn’t sure about how frequently they develop anxiety disorders, but I definitely knew about the sensory part. It makes sense that having trouble processing sensory information might increase a person’s anxiety.

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