Neuropsychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry that deals with the evaluation, diagnosis, management and treatment of psychiatric (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) conditions in patients who have established neurologic problems. Neuropsychiatrists are mostly psychiatrists or neurologists who took up further training beyond their basic specialty.

The term “neuropsychiatry” is commonly used to indicate the union of the two sister specialties—neurology and psychiatry. The term is often used to label centers of neurology and psychiatry that are merged into one, or individuals who have trained both in neurology and psychiatry. However, in the strictest sense, the subspecialty of Neuropsychiatry is a specific field of psychiatry that aims to manage psychiatric conditions that arise on top of neurologic conditions, which can be aggravating to each other when present simultaneously in an individual. An example of this is the development of depression following the stroke of an individual, or the development of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in a patient with traumatic brain injury.

The field of Neuropsychiatry is also often confused with the field of Biological Psychiatry. Although the two fields have significant overlap, the two are distinct from each other. Biological Psychiatry is concerned with how the brain is responsible for producing psychiatric conditions through biological factors such as neurotransmitters, hormones, anatomic variations, and so forth. Biological Psychiatry attempts to establish the connection between the biological or physical side with the psychiatric or emotional/behavioral side. It is not involved, however, in the treatment of patients with neurologic conditions.

Some examples of the conditions that are addressed by neuropsychiatry are the following:

  • Depression among patients who had stroke
  • Cognitive and behavioral problems among patients with dementia
  • Cognitive and behavioral problems among patients who had traumatic brain injury
  • Emotional problems among patients who had spinal cord injury
  • Schizophrenia among patients with dementia