What is Cyclothymic Disorder?

Various mood disorders exist, spanning from severe to mild. On the mild side of the scale is cyclothymic disorder. Those who experience cyclothymic disorder have unexplainable mood changes to mild depression and heightened levels of mood known as hypomania. These mood swings are typically short in nature and do not reach high levels of severity.



Cyclothymic disorder is a lesser sub-category of bi-polar disorder. It is not what people typically think of when bi-polar disorder is brought to mind.



Who Experiences Cyclothymic Disorder?



Anyone can be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder. In the United States, roughly 1% of the country has the disorder. It effects both men and women in roughly equally. In most cases of cyclothymic disorder, symptoms start to appear around, or just after, the teens.



Scientists are currently unsure of what exactly causes cyclothymic disorder or other forms of bi-polar disorder. The only known factor is that genetics play a role in it. Those with bi-polar disorder are more likely to have kids who have it.



What Symptoms Does Cyclothymic Disorder Present With?



Symptoms of cyclothymic disorder are irregular, which is one of the reasons it is so hard to diagnose. Another reason why it is so hard to diagnose is that the periods of elevated moods are very close to normal mood changes. The main symptoms are periods of hypomania and depression. These periods can last days or weeks depending on the person.



For the depression periods, the depression is minor. The periods do not reach the DSM criteria for a diagnosis of major depression.



The hypomania periods are likewise minor. During these periods the criteria for being diagnosed with mania are not met.



A patient who displays with more serious elevated moods would meet the criteria for being diagnosed with a different sub-category of bi-polar disorder.



What Are the Treatments for Cyclothymic Disorder?



Many mental health conditions go undiagnosed and therefore untreated. Cyclothymic disorder in particular often goes untreated. Treating cyclothymic disorder doesn’t specifically exist. Instead you treat the two periods separately.



Most patients decide to only treat the depression that is caused by cyclothymic disorder as it is the only part that causes a significant amount of discomfort. Mood stabilizers are the most commonly used medication for treating cyclothymic disorder’s depressive states. Two common examples of mood stabilizers used are lithium and lamotrigine.



One might think that you would use antidepressants to treat the depressive states that are caused by cyclothymic disorder. This is highly discouraged though. Antidepressants are strong medications that can come with a fair amount of side effects. They are typically reserved for those that suffer from major depressive episodes. They can also cause those who suffer from hypomania to develop more serious manic episodes.



Therapy is often used in combination with medication in order to better treat cyclothymic disorder. Multiple therapy types are used and provided by a number of professionals such as counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers. Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy are two examples of therapy that are commonly used.



For those with cyclothymic disorder it is very easy to start abusing substances such as alcohol. It is incredibly important to monitor your use of alcohol or drugs. The best solution is to stop using them altogether.



Exercise is a great way to help balance out your moods. Ensuring that you get regular moderate levels of exercise will help to keep your mood levels balanced. This is because the brain releases a number of chemicals when working out that help to balance out moods. Exercise is especially helpful for depressive episodes. It also helps you to get more sleep which helps to stabilize your moods.



Many of those with cyclothymic disorder avoid getting diagnosed for a number of reasons. That being said, it is important to seek help when you feel that you need it. It often helps to seek help before that point to prevent symptoms from worsening. Cyclothymic disorder makes it more likely that you will develop bi-polar I or bi-polar II later on in life and with this fact known it should be apparent that treatment is even more important.