Cyclothymic Disorder: What Is It?

Reviewed Mar 1, 2017

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Summary

  • Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
  • The highs of cyclothymic disorder are called hypomania.
  • Hypomania is a milder form of the mania seen in bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymic disorder is a relatively uncommon mood disorder. It is also called cyclothymia. It is a mild form of bipolar disorder. The disorder is marked by swings between emotional highs and lows. Cyclothymic disorder, bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder are all forms of what used to be known as manic depressive illness. They are marked by mood swings spanning months to years.

In cyclothymia the high is called hypomania. It often involves high activity or energy. It may also be marked by feelings of great joy for no reason and strong self-confidence. Hypomania is not as bad as the mania in bipolar I disorder. Mania in bipolar I disorder is so strong that it can lead to unsafe actions. It may even call for hospital care.

The lows of cyclothymic disorder look and feel like depression: low mood, activity, and energy. Some people may not be bothered enough by the lows to get help. The same is true for the highs. What’s more, people may feel fine between the highs and the lows.

The key is to note the symptoms that do cause distress and work with a doctor to find the best care. Remember, recovery is possible!

Who gets cyclothymic disorder?

This disorder often starts in the teen or early adult years. It can appear in kids, though. It is estimated that about 0.4 percent to 1 percent of people in the U.S. are affected by it. It is equally common in men and women. People who have a parent or sibling with bipolar I disorder are at higher risk. Among those who have it, major depressive disorder and bipolar II disorder are seen in their parents and siblings more often than those who are not affected.

What causes cyclothymia?

Experts do not know what causes this disorder. It may be that major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder have like causes since they often occur together in families. It is known that some people at first diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder go on to develop or are later diagnosed with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. But it is not clear what the root cause may be.

Symptoms

Getting a diagnosis can be tricky. It may not seem that there is a clear cut problem because symptoms can seem mild. Others may see people with the disorder as just moody. Yet there are guidelines that help doctors to determine if you have the disorder. People who have it may have any of these symptoms:

  • Periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms for at least two years (one or more years in kids and teens)
  • Mood swings that are not as harsh as those seen in major depressive and bipolar disorders
  • Hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for half the time, with no more than two symptom-free months in a row

Doctors will decide if you have cyclothymic disorder based on your mood history. Your doctor may also order blood and urine tests to rule out other health problems that can cause mood symptoms.

Getting help

If you are having mood swings, take note of how you feel and keep track of changes. If a loved one is having mood swings, encourage him to do the same. Be sure to track moods in kids if you notice swings. Then talk with a doctor about signs, symptoms, and trends. There are treatments, both in the form of medication and talk therapy.

Even if the mood swings feel manageable, it is vital to talk with your doctor. Treatment can help even out moods and improve functioning.

Support for you and loved ones is also available from talk therapy and support groups.

Don’t wait to talk with your doctor—it can help you improve your quality of life.

Resources

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help
(800) 273-TALK

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org
(800) 950-NAMI

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org
(800) 273-TALK
Support group locator: www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_support_group_locator

By Sarah Stone
Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2015) Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5; U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cyclothymic Disorder, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers; Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cyclothymia/basics/definition/con-20028763; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Associate CMO, Operations, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
  • The highs of cyclothymic disorder are called hypomania.
  • Hypomania is a milder form of the mania seen in bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymic disorder is a relatively uncommon mood disorder. It is also called cyclothymia. It is a mild form of bipolar disorder. The disorder is marked by swings between emotional highs and lows. Cyclothymic disorder, bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder are all forms of what used to be known as manic depressive illness. They are marked by mood swings spanning months to years.

In cyclothymia the high is called hypomania. It often involves high activity or energy. It may also be marked by feelings of great joy for no reason and strong self-confidence. Hypomania is not as bad as the mania in bipolar I disorder. Mania in bipolar I disorder is so strong that it can lead to unsafe actions. It may even call for hospital care.

The lows of cyclothymic disorder look and feel like depression: low mood, activity, and energy. Some people may not be bothered enough by the lows to get help. The same is true for the highs. What’s more, people may feel fine between the highs and the lows.

The key is to note the symptoms that do cause distress and work with a doctor to find the best care. Remember, recovery is possible!

Who gets cyclothymic disorder?

This disorder often starts in the teen or early adult years. It can appear in kids, though. It is estimated that about 0.4 percent to 1 percent of people in the U.S. are affected by it. It is equally common in men and women. People who have a parent or sibling with bipolar I disorder are at higher risk. Among those who have it, major depressive disorder and bipolar II disorder are seen in their parents and siblings more often than those who are not affected.

What causes cyclothymia?

Experts do not know what causes this disorder. It may be that major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder have like causes since they often occur together in families. It is known that some people at first diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder go on to develop or are later diagnosed with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. But it is not clear what the root cause may be.

Symptoms

Getting a diagnosis can be tricky. It may not seem that there is a clear cut problem because symptoms can seem mild. Others may see people with the disorder as just moody. Yet there are guidelines that help doctors to determine if you have the disorder. People who have it may have any of these symptoms:

  • Periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms for at least two years (one or more years in kids and teens)
  • Mood swings that are not as harsh as those seen in major depressive and bipolar disorders
  • Hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for half the time, with no more than two symptom-free months in a row

Doctors will decide if you have cyclothymic disorder based on your mood history. Your doctor may also order blood and urine tests to rule out other health problems that can cause mood symptoms.

Getting help

If you are having mood swings, take note of how you feel and keep track of changes. If a loved one is having mood swings, encourage him to do the same. Be sure to track moods in kids if you notice swings. Then talk with a doctor about signs, symptoms, and trends. There are treatments, both in the form of medication and talk therapy.

Even if the mood swings feel manageable, it is vital to talk with your doctor. Treatment can help even out moods and improve functioning.

Support for you and loved ones is also available from talk therapy and support groups.

Don’t wait to talk with your doctor—it can help you improve your quality of life.

Resources

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help
(800) 273-TALK

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org
(800) 950-NAMI

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org
(800) 273-TALK
Support group locator: www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_support_group_locator

By Sarah Stone
Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2015) Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5; U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cyclothymic Disorder, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers; Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cyclothymia/basics/definition/con-20028763; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Associate CMO, Operations, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
  • The highs of cyclothymic disorder are called hypomania.
  • Hypomania is a milder form of the mania seen in bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymic disorder is a relatively uncommon mood disorder. It is also called cyclothymia. It is a mild form of bipolar disorder. The disorder is marked by swings between emotional highs and lows. Cyclothymic disorder, bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder are all forms of what used to be known as manic depressive illness. They are marked by mood swings spanning months to years.

In cyclothymia the high is called hypomania. It often involves high activity or energy. It may also be marked by feelings of great joy for no reason and strong self-confidence. Hypomania is not as bad as the mania in bipolar I disorder. Mania in bipolar I disorder is so strong that it can lead to unsafe actions. It may even call for hospital care.

The lows of cyclothymic disorder look and feel like depression: low mood, activity, and energy. Some people may not be bothered enough by the lows to get help. The same is true for the highs. What’s more, people may feel fine between the highs and the lows.

The key is to note the symptoms that do cause distress and work with a doctor to find the best care. Remember, recovery is possible!

Who gets cyclothymic disorder?

This disorder often starts in the teen or early adult years. It can appear in kids, though. It is estimated that about 0.4 percent to 1 percent of people in the U.S. are affected by it. It is equally common in men and women. People who have a parent or sibling with bipolar I disorder are at higher risk. Among those who have it, major depressive disorder and bipolar II disorder are seen in their parents and siblings more often than those who are not affected.

What causes cyclothymia?

Experts do not know what causes this disorder. It may be that major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder have like causes since they often occur together in families. It is known that some people at first diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder go on to develop or are later diagnosed with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. But it is not clear what the root cause may be.

Symptoms

Getting a diagnosis can be tricky. It may not seem that there is a clear cut problem because symptoms can seem mild. Others may see people with the disorder as just moody. Yet there are guidelines that help doctors to determine if you have the disorder. People who have it may have any of these symptoms:

  • Periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms for at least two years (one or more years in kids and teens)
  • Mood swings that are not as harsh as those seen in major depressive and bipolar disorders
  • Hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for half the time, with no more than two symptom-free months in a row

Doctors will decide if you have cyclothymic disorder based on your mood history. Your doctor may also order blood and urine tests to rule out other health problems that can cause mood symptoms.

Getting help

If you are having mood swings, take note of how you feel and keep track of changes. If a loved one is having mood swings, encourage him to do the same. Be sure to track moods in kids if you notice swings. Then talk with a doctor about signs, symptoms, and trends. There are treatments, both in the form of medication and talk therapy.

Even if the mood swings feel manageable, it is vital to talk with your doctor. Treatment can help even out moods and improve functioning.

Support for you and loved ones is also available from talk therapy and support groups.

Don’t wait to talk with your doctor—it can help you improve your quality of life.

Resources

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help
(800) 273-TALK

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org
(800) 950-NAMI

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org
(800) 273-TALK
Support group locator: www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_support_group_locator

By Sarah Stone
Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2015) Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5; U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cyclothymic Disorder, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers; Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cyclothymia/basics/definition/con-20028763; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Associate CMO, Operations, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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