Perhaps one of the most amazing and complex features of our body is the brain. However, recently the field of neuropsychiatry has become increasingly prevalent as scientists and doctors evaluate the connection between neurology and psychiatry in order to better treat neuropsychiatric conditions like depression, eating, mood, and neurotic disorders, and degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimers disease or Parkinson’s disease. With over 350,000,000 people globally affected by depression in some form and between seven to ten million people worldwide having Parkinson’s disease, the field of neuropsychiatry is certainly one that’s generating a considerable amount of interest. Mental health has become a growing concern, especially in the United States, and learning how to properly treat and manage patients who have mental health issues could go a long way toward solving some of the more recent issues in our society, including how the mentally ill are treated by the larger public and reducing the fear and stigma associated with the mentally ill.
What is Neuropsychiatry Exactly?
Neuropsychiatry is a branch of medicine that handles mental disorders that can be linked to diseases of the nervous system. It’s a subspecialty of the psychiatry field and is often associated with neuropsychology and behavioral neurology, which primarily focus on clinical problems regarding cognition and behavior that comes as a result of brain injury or disease. Doctors attempt to make a distinction between acute and chronic disorders, find the divide between cognitive and psychiatric disorder, find out whether the impairment is specific or generalized, and determine whether any underlying conditions can be reversed or whether they’re permanent. Many who practice neuropsychiatry argue that this field can help refine the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, thereby improving the quality of care and rehabilitation that the patient receives.
What’s the Need For the Neuropsychiatric Field?
The need is strong for neuropsychiatrists. Some basic stats:
- Around 15 million people have some form of social anxiety disorder and are six times more likely to be hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder.
- Around six million people suffer from a panic disorder.
- Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of mental illness in the United States, with almost 20% of the population affected. And sadly, around two-thirds of adults don’t receive treatment, despite how easy it is to treat with therapy or medication.
- In 2012, almost 16,000,000 adults had one major depressive episode and the number of patients who are diagnosed with depression goes up by around 20% every year. Additionally, over 80% of people who display symptoms of clinical depression aren’t getting treatment.
- Dementia worldwide affects almost 48 million people and is expected to increase to almost 76 million people by 2030. In 2015, a little over 5 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease.
- Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed in around 60,000 Americans every year (and that’s not counting how many thousands of cases go undiagnosed).
Clearly, there is an overabundance of new neuropsychiatric conditions that arise every year for doctors to examine and treat.
What Does Neuropsychiatric Patient Care Look Like?
There are hospitals that are specifically devoted to neuropsychiatric care for the geriatric and adult population that have neuropsychiatric conditions. A neuropsychiatric hospital will blend an interdisciplinary team of psychiatrists, neurologists, and medical doctors to treat patients. They work as a team to assess chronic behavioral and emotional disorders that could have stemmed from a psychiatric, neurological, or medical root. Since the effort is collaborative in nature, the patient should feel taken care of on both physical and mental levels and the care is more specific and geared towards their condition. Ideally, neuropsychiatric patient care should be patient-centered, family-focused, and sensitive to neuropsychiatric conditions and the cultural implications around them. They’ll take care of everything from evaluation, diagnosis, and a recommended treatment program, whether that’s medication, therapy, or a blend of the two.
Mental health is a difficult topic for many people — it can often be embarrassing to admit that you need help or that you have a problem to begin with. However, the stigma shouldn’t keep you from not seeking help, as your quality of life can be vastly improved.