What is neuropsychiatry?

Here’s the beginning of the Wikipedia article on neuropsychiatry:

Neuropsychiatry is the branch of medicine dealing with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system. It preceded the current disciplines of psychiatry and neurology, inasmuch as psychiatrists and neurologists had a common training (Yudofsky and Hales, 2002). However, neurology and psychiatry subsequently split apart and are typically practiced separately. Nevertheless, neuropsychiatry has become a growing subspecialty of psychiatry and it is also closely related to the field of behavioral neurology, which is a subspecialty of neurology that addresses clinical problems of cognition and/or behavior caused by brain injury or brain disease.

The article gets a little wacky after that (will someone please edit it?), but that gives the general idea. Basically, neuropsychiatry is a subspecialty¬† in the area of medicine where neurology and psychiatry overlap. Some patients have significant neurological and psychiatric problems (like depression and seizures), and you often can’t medicate one without medicating (or worsening) the other, so general psychiatrists and neurologists can have some difficulties. There are also patients who have significant psychiatric symptoms due to a neurological problem, like personality or emotional changes after a head injury. These patients would also benefit from having a neuropsychiatrist. Often, psychiatric patients have neurological symptoms and psychiatrists may have difficulty determining whether they are a true neurological problem, a side effect of the psychiatric medications, or a psychiatric symptom such as a conversion disorder.

Patients like these can be among the most challenging and at times frustrating to treat in a general neurology or psychiatry practice. For some of us, however, these patients are the most interesting and often the most rewarding to work with. If you feel that way too, then you ought to be a neuropsychiatrist.

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