'Darkest days of my life': Six-year-old diagnosed with rare condition suffers OCD, anxiety and depressive symptoms

Louie Baccino

Louie Baccino has been diagnosed with PANDAS - Credit: Elly Short

A mother is raising awareness in Chadwell Heath about a little-known psychiatric condition her six-year-old son has developed.

Elly Short, 38, was shocked when her son Louie Baccino developed Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders  Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS) in March this year.

PANDAS is a subset of PANS, a neuropsychiatric condition which is triggered by a misdirected immune response and results in inflammation of a child's brain.

Overnight, Louie developed OCD symptoms, irrational fears, anxiety, phobias, depression-like symptoms and began self-harming.

She said: "It was so severe that we couldn't even leave the house, he was begging me to kill him and wanting to die on a daily basis.

"He would scream and cry if his blanket fell off his bed, and insist it had to be washed.

"If we went out, he would cower in a ball and scream that he was scared.

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"It was terrible, our whole lives changed overnight."

Elly said she visited several doctors who had not heard of the illness.

"I was left with an extremely sick six-year-old boy who was living in hell on earth every day and night, and I couldn't get any help for him from anywhere - I was heartbroken," she said. 

She said he can "crying and sobbing on and off all day, everyday".

"They were the darkest days of my life, to see my precious little boy like this, and I couldn't believe I couldn't get help from my doctor or hospital or anywhere for him."

Maureen Short and Louie

Louie is "very close" with his grandmother Maureen Short - Credit: Elly Short

Louie was finally referred to the NHS's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and after Elly took him to a private doctor, Louie was diagnosed with PANDAS.

Now, Elly's mum Maureen Short, Romford-based aunt Margaret Mills and aunts Roe Moret and Sheila Cannon from east London are organising a fundraising event for PANS PANDAS UK, a charity raising awareness about the illness.

The fundraising event will take place on Saturday (July 31) at 15 Hampstead Gardens, Chadwell Heath, from 10am to 6pm.

When life is difficult, the Samaritans is available 365 days, 24/7. Call for free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org.