Neural Pathways, Artistically by geralt on pixabay
Neural Pathways, Artistically by geralt on pixabay

When I was visiting with my father to celebrate Thanksgiving, he asked me why what he suffers – dementia, a memory disorder, a neurological disorder – is any different than what I have – bipolar disorder, a mental illness, a psychiatric disorder? Why these distinctions? Why is stigma attached to one and not another? Why do so many of us feel compassion for those with dementia and fear those with mental illness?

According to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. (ABPN), which board certifies both psychiatrists and neurologists:

The conditions psychiatrists treat include disorders such as:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance-abuse disorders
  • Psychoses
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Adjustment reactions

Neurologists diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves) and muscles. These disorders include:

  • Stroke
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Headache and other pain
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Parkinson disease
  • Alzheimer disease and other memory disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Effects of systemic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes, on the nervous system


18 responses to “Brain is a Brain”

  1. […] Previously published on kittomalley […]

  2. This is a wonderful post with deeper understanding how to handle every other stage!

  3. Actually, I think he was right. He was making an excellent point. The guy is REALLY smart.

  4. Serious mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as neurobiological. Psychiatrists also treat symptoms that are caused by environmental causes. Many, if not most, of us have a constellation of symptoms with both neurobiological and environmental causes and effects.

  5. There you are wrong. Both are physical. Both are neurobiological. Psychotherapists without a medical education can treat emotional issues that have no biological basis. Certainly there are cases in which someone needs medication to help them cope with an issue that has an experiential rather than biological basis, but serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, have biological bases.

  6. Why it is SO important that we treat it as a neurobiological illness and take our medication.

  7. Hopefully by taking my meds and caring for my brain, I will offset that risk. I know that the research you shared spoke of the protection lithium provides. I hope that valproic acid offers the same protection.

  8. My daughter sees a psychiatrist and a neurologist…I appreciate your title…Brain is Brain. I greatly appreciate your post and your question regarding stigma.

  9. Were you able to help your father understand ? Diane

  10. I was thinking much along the same lines. Psychiatrists specialize in more mental/emotional based issue (yes there may be physical symptoms) while a neurologist has to deal with physical issues of how the brain and nervous/electrical pathways are functioning.

  11. I would posit the theory that the two are separated by the fact that psychiatrist deal with issues that to me are emotionally-based.
    I’m not saying that what the neurologist deals with isn’t, I think it’s just more blatant that the disc ease that the psychiatrist deals with has a basis that isn’t physical

  12. Bipolar is, to be specific, actually a neurotoxic disease.

  13. Great post. We (bipolar us) are at risk for dementia – increasingly so according to age of onset and number of episodes.

  14. Without doubt. Perhaps there is some connection of which I’m unaware. Behavioral component, perhaps. Socio-economic, family dynamic, or psychological factors?

  15. At some level, it must arbitrary this distinction between the two.

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