What is neuropsychiatry?
Neuropsychiatry is the field of medicine that studies and manages diseases of the brain that affect emotion, behavior, or cognition. This can mean either managing primary psychiatric disorders like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder with an emphasis on their biological aspects, or managing emotional, behavioral, or cognitive problems that are very common with primary neurological disorders like parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
One major aspect of neuropsychiatry is the study and management of dementia, which seems to lay at the intersection of psychiatry and neurology. This is a particular interest in neuropsychiatry as symptoms are a clear consequence of specific areas of the brain which are degenerating.
In fact, much of our knowledge of brain function has come from the study of dementias, as specific dementias target specific brain regions.
Who practices neuropsychiatry?
Both psychiatrists and neurologists can practice neuropsychiatry. The term 'neuropsychiatrist' can actually be used by any psychiatrist or neurologist, depending on their scope of practice. A neuropsychiatrist will traditionally spend a significant amount of their practice either studying or treating diseases which involve injury having occurred to the brain. This can mean either traumatic brain injury, stroke, parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and many others.
The United Council of Neurological Subspecialties now requires either psychiatrists or neurologists to complete a one to two year fellowship (training program) in order to qualify for board certification in neuropsychiatry.
How do I find a neuropsychiatrist?
To be blunt, there aren't a lot of us. Most are working at larger hospital systems or university hospitals. Unfortunately, the best way to find someone is to do a google search for your town/city/state. One great resource is the website of the United Council of Neurological Subspecialties, where you can find a list of physicians who are board certified in neuropsychiatry and behavioral neurology. Another resource is your state's Brain Injury Association, which may have a list of physicians that practice neuropsychiatry. Lastly, a neuropsychologist in your town/city will most likely know which psychiatrists or neurologists in your area have this type of expertise.