Jeff Steinberg MD Logo

Headache and Pain Center of South Florida

How is a Neurologist different from a Psychiatrist?

psychiatrist vs neurologist

The fields of neurology and psychiatry are both related to the brain, but they focus on vastly different aspects of medicine. They also entail very different day-to-day roles. Understanding the difference between a psychiatrist and a neurologist is essential if you’re considering a career in either field (or if you’re trying to decide which one you should see for treatment).

There’s indeed some overlap between the two fields, but while there are various basic similarities when it comes to a neurologist vs a psychiatrist, they require different qualifications and treat different conditions.

If you’re thinking about going into the field of medicine, discovering the difference between psychiatrist and neurologist roles and functions can help you determine which might be better suited for you. If providing care for the brain is something you’re interested in, but you’re unsure about which path is right for you, keep reading.

If you think you need to see a doctor about a physical or mental health condition relating to your brain, we can help you figure out which type you should make an appointment with.

We’re exploring how each type of doctor can help patients, the educational requirements, the duties of each role, and what the future work environment might look like for someone on a path to becoming either a neurologist or a psychiatrist.

What is a Neurologist?

Neurology is a specialty that trains physicians to treat neurological concerns related to diseases and conditions of the brain, spine, nervous system, and nerve pain. Neurologists can test patients for a variety of neurological conditions; they attempt to determine the root causes of any dysfunction of the nervous system and provide both diagnosis and treatment for neurological conditions.

Treatments typically include rehabilitation therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. Depending on the diagnosis, a neurologist might suggest surgery. For very complex or severe nervous system disorders, neurologists often refer patients to and collaborate with immunologists and/or rheumatologists.

A neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the assessment, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the brain, spinal cord, and disorders of the nerves, muscles, sensory, and motor systems, as well as neurological disorders.

What is a Psychiatrist?

Wondering what a psychiatrist is and what they do? You’re not alone. This field of medicine is often lumped into the category of “someone who provides therapy” as a whole. The truth is, although there are several types of psychiatrists, they are all highly skilled and trained medical doctors. Their profession also differs vastly from other forms of mental healthcare providers.

Psychiatry is a medical field where doctors are trained to diagnose and treat psychological disorders and other mental health conditions. Psychiatrists use a variety of diagnostic techniques when examining a patient. They consider both physical and mental health history, reviewing symptoms related to behavior, all to determine the best diagnosis and, ultimately, decide on an appropriate course of treatment.

Treatment plans designed by psychiatrists can include behavioral therapy, counseling or therapy, and often medication. Psychiatrists may refer patients to other mental health professionals, including counselors, psychologists, or rehabilitation therapists, for psychological treatment.

Difference between Neurologist and Psychiatrist

When it comes to mental health, most people don’t know the difference between a neurologist and a psychiatrist. They may think that they are the same or that a neurologist is only for diagnosing brain injuries and diseases, while a psychiatrist is for treating mental illness. While both professions deal with aspects of mental health, there are some key differences between them. In this blog post, we will explore those differences.


A neurologist has a medical degree (MD) and completes 4 years of residency in neurology. A psychiatrist has an MD and completes 4 years of residency in psychiatry.

What is a Neurologist?


To become a board-certified neurologist, one must pass an exam administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). There is no equivalent certification process for psychiatrists.


Some neurologists specialize in certain brain areas or diseases, such as pediatric neurology or movement disorders. Some psychiatrists specialize in certain areas of mental health, such as addiction psychiatry or child and adolescent psychiatry.

Conditions and Symptoms

The symptoms and conditions a patient is experiencing will determine which specialist they should see, although it’s not uncommon for someone to need to see both types of doctors. Some neurological conditions may cause symptoms that a psychiatrist might address, and vice versa.

Neurologists can address problems relating to any part of the nervous system, they primarily focus on the spine and brain. Psychiatry is the practice of treating people who have a mental health condition that affects how they behave, think, and feel.

Some of the conditions neurologists treat can include:

  • Migraine
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Sleep disorders
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Dementia
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Vision issues
  • Shaking
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Muscle weakness
  • Brain damage
  • Strokes
  • Seizures

Some of the conditions psychiatrists treat can include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Addiction
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dissociation
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Feeding and eating disorders
  • Mood swings
  • Schizophrenia
  • Emotional trauma
  • Developmental disorders


A neurologist is trained to use tests such as MRIs and CT scans to diagnose conditions. A psychiatrist is trained to use various methods, including clinical interviews and psychological testing, to diagnose mental illness.

Location of Practice

Neurologists typically work in hospitals or clinics. Psychiatrists may work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and government agencies.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for neurologists is an average of $192,992 per year, while psychiatrists earn an average annual salary of $234,965 per year. The amount you earn in either position depends on where you live, your employer, your years of experience, and whether you have a sub-specialty. If you have your practice as a neurologist or psychiatrist, you can typically set your rates, although insurance providers may only reimburse a certain amount for medical services.

Difference between neurologist and psychiatrist on Job Outlook

The job outlook for neurologists is good, with an expected growth rate of 14% from 2018 to 2028. The job outlook for psychiatrists is also good, with an expected growth rate of 11% from 2018 to 2028.

Difference in Focus

Neurologists focus on the nervous system and brain, while psychiatrists focus on the mind.


There is some overlap between the duties of neurologists and psychiatrists. For example, both may diagnose and treat mental illness.


Neurologists typically see patients who have conditions such as epilepsy, stroke, or dementia. Psychiatrists typically see patients who have depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

Working Hours

Neurologists often work long hours, especially in residency. Psychiatrists typically work fewer hours than neurologists.

What is a Psychiatrist?


Neurologists conduct a great deal of research on brain diseases and disorders. Psychiatrists also research mental illness but to a lesser extent than neurologists.


Neurologists often teach medical students and residents. Psychiatrists may also teach medical students and residents.

Your Journey to Wellness Starts Here – Consult with Dr. Jeff Steinberg Today!

In summary, neurology and psychiatry are two distinct medical specialties that focus on different aspects of the brain and nervous system. Neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system, while psychiatrists focus on mental health conditions and emotional well-being. By understanding the differences between these disciplines, patients can make informed decisions about their healthcare needs, and healthcare professionals can collaborate effectively to provide holistic care for individuals with neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Jeff Steinberg is an expert neurologist in Fort Lauderdale with years of experience in treating a wide spectrum of neurological conditions including migraine, spinal cord injury, sleep disorders treatment, neuropathic pain, shaking, epilepsy, and many other treatments related to the brain. Contact us at (954) 329-0053 for more information or to schedule your consultation.