“Neuropsychiatry” – Were the Brain and the Mind Ever Separate?

Neuropsychiatry is a field of medicine that combines neurology and psychiatry. It tends to relate mental disorders with brain dysfunction. It aims to understand the biological and psychological aspects of these disorders to provide correct diagnosis and treatment to related patients. Neuropsychiatry also explores the normal and abnormal aspects of the human mind and brain, and how they interact with each other and the environment.  

Evolution Over Time: 

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Clinical Neuropsychology states that historically, the brain and the mind were always intertwined, but they diverged due to different theoretical and ideological approaches. However, in the last few decades, there has been an increase of interest and debate relating to neuropsychiatry, as evidence from research has shown that the mind and the brain are not separate entities, but different ways of looking at the same system. It was in the 20th century that the meaning of neuropsychiatry was clearly defined.  

Emil Kraepelin, one of the pioneers, was the first one to systemize neuropsychiatry. He documented two disorders related to the field too, manic-depressive now known as bipolar disorder and dementia praecox now known as schizophrenia. Freud, a neurologist, lead the foundation of a new field of psychanalysis and psychodynamic approach towards mental disorders.  

What Does a Neuropsychiatrist Do? 

Neuropsychiatrists work with mental and behavioral disorders due to various conditions affecting the nervous system. They administer exams to evaluate a patient’s reflexes, coordination, gait, nerves and motor functions.

They also conduct interviews to know about the mental status of the patient. They may prescribe medications and can also recommend therapy. More than other types of psychiatry, this requires looking at many images of the brain and interpreting effects. 

To put it simply, a psychiatrist specializes in analyzing how the external world affects your mind and behaviors, whilst a neuropsychiatrist will often look “within”, examining your neurological networks and brain’s chemical makeup.  

Neuropsychiatric Disorders: 

The following conditions are studied and treated in neuropsychiatry department: – 

  1. Anxiety and Hyperactivity 
  1. Delirium  
  1. Parkinson’s Disease 
  1. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  1. Huntington’s Disease 
  1. Dementia 
  1. Schizophrenia  
  1. Tourette Syndrome 
  1. Apathy  
  1. Epilepsy  
  1. Psychosis or Depression  
  1. Progeria  
  1. Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD) 

Tools of Clinical Neuropsychiatry: 

In the process of treating patients, neuropsychiatrists make use of research for tools in neuropsychiatry and neuroscience which include: –  

  1. Neuropsychopharmacology – the study of effects of drugs used to treat neuropsychiatric disorders. 
  1. Electroencephalography – method of measuring brain waves.  
  1. Clinical Neurogenetics – branch of science that studies heritable disorders of CNS and PNS.  
  1. Neural Network theory – mathematical models that use learning algorithms inspired by the brain to store information. 
  1. Neuroinformatics – a research field which combines neuroscience and informatics.  
  1. Neuroimaging Techniques – for obtaining images of different sections of the brain: –  
  • Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) 
  • Function Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) 
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography 
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging 
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)  

Future of Neuropsychiatry: 

The coming era of neuropsychiatry will be of unparalleled discovery. Further advances in neuroimaging and microbiology will lead to greater understanding of neuropsychiatric diseases and improved therapy. Thus, we will be able to know the global impact of these disorders. Aging population will only increase to these problems. A better knowledge of neuropsychiatry will help us grasp the mind more accurately and help enhance mental health of people all around the world!!! 

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