Neurology is a medical field closely related to psychiatry. Mental disorders can sometimes be confused with neurological diseases. This is because there may be symptoms suggestive of mental illness in many severe neurological diseases. It is possible since in both cases there may be disturbances in consciousness, concentration, as well as hallucinations. When you notice the first symptoms that may suggest a psychiatric illness, you should see a psychiatrist. In all major cities, places are requiring free specialist appointments without long waiting times.
If the psychiatrist notices disturbing signs that may suggest a neurological disease, he will refer the patient to a neurologist for specialist tests. Neuropsychiatric disorders are one of the most common forms of neurological pathology and are observed in a large number of brain diseases of different etiology and pathogenesis. The problem of diagnostics, management, and treatment of patients with neuropsychiatric disorders in recent decades has become a priority in world-leading countries. However, to better understand these dependencies, one should look at specific examples, and also answer the question of what field of working both neurology and psychiatry have.
What are psychiatry and neurology?
Neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the peripheral and central nervous systems. This medical science focuses primarily on diseases resulting from the processes that destroy the human nervous system. Therefore, a neurologist examines the causes of the emerging neurological disorders, makes a diagnosis, and recommends appropriate treatment. It deals with the treatment of diseases such as:
- degeneration of the spine,
- Parkinson’s disease,
- Alzheimer’s disease,
- Huntington’s chorea,
- stroke, and the patient’s condition after stroke,
- brain tumors,
- migraines, and other headaches.
Many neurological diseases develop suddenly and rapidly. Sometimes, however, they do not give noticeable symptoms for years. For this reason, it is so important to go to a specialist as soon as disturbing signals from the nervous system appear.
What about psychiatry? It is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Modern psychiatry focuses not only on symptoms but also on finding out their causes. The most common mental disorders include:
- emotional disorders,
- personality disorders,
- bipolar disorder,
- eating disorders,
- psychosis and mania,
- suicidal thoughts, and tendencies.
There are many causes of mental disorders, as well as many – and even more – varieties of mental disorders themselves. Individual mental disorders differ, inter alia, in to what extent the symptoms occur in their course, as well as in what age groups they occur.
Mental disorders and neurological diseases
It turns out that the correlation between mental disorders and neurological diseases is very large. Mainly due to the similarity of the symptoms. It often happens that the first symptoms observed in a patient indicate a mental illness. Therefore, in some cases, a psychiatrist, after collecting a detailed interview, may refer the patient to a neurologist for specialist examinations.
What are the symptoms of psychiatric disorders? Mental disorders are a group of heterogeneous problems related to various aspects of human life. There are many types of these disorders, differing in symptoms and the age group in which they usually occur. These include:
- bipolar disorder,
- elderly dementia,
- anorexia (a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder).
The most common of them are neurotic disorders accompanied by:
- severe anxiety,
- panic attacks,
- increased reactions to stressful situations,
- sleep disorders,
- attacks of aggression,
- personality disorders.
The main objectives of the study of neuropsychiatric disorders are early diagnosis and determination of their etiology, which allows predicting a stable or progressive course of neuropsychiatric disorders and prescribing adequate forms of therapy. The main goals of therapy are:
- improving neuropsychic functions or stopping their progression;
- improving the patient’s quality of life;
- improving professional and/or social and domestic functioning;
- reduction of distress in relatives.
Neurological diseases – how to distinguish them from mental disorders
Neurological diseases are very often confused with mental disorders due to the similarity of some symptoms. It is worth noting that in most cases of severe neurological diseases, apart from symptoms such as dizziness, tingling in the limbs, visual and speech disorders, problems with concentration and orientation in the field, there may also be symptoms typical of mental illnesses. These are the symptoms we can see in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, meningitis, and cancer. In addition, symptoms such as personality disorders, hallucinations, or attacks of aggression may appear. The basis for the diagnosis of these diseases is a neurological consultation, conducting an in-depth interview with the patient, and performing specialized neurological examinations.
The reasons can be different, but mental and neurological manifestations are very often noted together. So, with a separate examination by a neurologist in the early stages of the disease, there can often be a relative norm in the analyzes, while the psychotherapist will notice deviations. Therefore, when we combine psychology and neurology, we have excellent prognostic and preventive effects, not to mention more effective diagnosis and treatment.