Jeff Szymanski

Jeff Szymanski, PhD, is the executive director of the International OCD Foundation in Boston, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, and author of The Perfectionist's Handbook (Wiley, 2011).

Posts by Jeff Szymanski

Jeff Szymanski

Can an infection suddenly cause OCD?

Beginning in 1998, infectious disease and mental health experts have identified children who develop symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or tic disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome after an infection. First thought to be linked only to the group A streptococcus bacteria that cause strep throat or scarlet fever, it has been seen with other kinds of infections. Experts propose calling this frightening disorder pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS). It probably happens when the infectious agent gets into the brain and inflames the basal ganglia. Rapid treatment with antibiotics can reverse the symptoms.