Is It Cyclothymic Disorder or Something Else?

Reviewed Mar 1, 2017

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Summary

  • Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
  • Mood swings from high to low may seem mild to some, or distressing to others.
  • More extreme highs and lows may mean you have bipolar I or II.

Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder. It is also called cyclothymia. It consists of emotional highs and lows. It shifts how people feel and act.

The mood states of bipolar disorders are called episodes. These are not just routine ups and downs. The symptoms can cause problems with relationships, work, and school.

The exact number of people with a bipolar disorder is not easy to establish. It is estimated that more than 10 million people in the U.S. have a bipolar condition.

Bipolar disorders include:

  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder

The symptoms of cyclothymia are not as harsh as those in bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. In fact, others may see it as just moodiness. The stronger symptoms of bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder can hurt relationships, jobs, and cause trouble with the law. Some of the symptoms are shared or the same. The difference in intensity is key to matching the right care.

Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia involves mood swings between highs and lows. The high is called hypomania. The highs can involve greater activity, excitement, and energy. There may be feelings of great joy for no reason and strong self-confidence.

The lows can feel like depression, leading to low mood and energy levels. Even though symptoms can be mild, they can still cause distress in all parts of life for some. For others, the symptoms may seem too mild to treat.

The disorder is fairly rare. Some studies say that between 15 percent and 50 percent of people first diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder go on to have or are later diagnosed with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. In some, it becomes life-long or in others it goes away with time and treatment. People who have it may also have other health issues. Taking action to get well and to get support gives hope that recovery can happen.

Bipolar I disorder

Bipolar I disorder brings very strong mood swings. The highs, called mania, can cause someone to feel full of energy. There are often grandiose feelings. For instance, someone may think that she is better than others. Or that he deserves special care. Or, someone may believe she has a special talent that does not exist.

Mania can also lead to unsafe activities, sometimes needing a hospital stay. The lows lead to feeling sad and hopeless. In between there can be normal moods or hypomania, which is milder than mania. The mood swings of bipolar I disorder can be so strong that upset daily life is upset. Other people will notice mood changes in someone with bipolar I disorder.

The average age at which bipolar I disorder starts is 18. Yet older and younger people do get it. Men and women are equally affected. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar I disorder to also have other mental health issues. The suicide risk among those with bipolar I disorder is much higher than in those who do not have it. This is why treatment, recovery supports, and actively taking part in wellness plans are key.

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar disorders often start with major depressive-like symptoms. The main difference between bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder is that there is no mania in bipolar II disorder.

Bipolar II disorder often starts in the teen years, but it can start later in life. It is more common to see later onset in bipolar II disorder than in bipolar I disorder. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar II disorder to also have other mental health issues. Suicide risk is much higher for this group than in those who do not have it. Again, this makes treatment and other recovery supports vital.

Overview of each type of bipolar disorder

Cyclothymic DisorderBipolar I DisorderBipolar II Disorder
Periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms for at least two years (one or more years in kids and teens)One manic episode, before or after a hypomanic or major depressive episodeAt least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode, but no manic episodes

 

Hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for half the time, with no more than two symptom-free months in a row

  

 

Mood swings are not as sharp as those in major depressive disorder, bipolar I disorder, and bipolar II disorder

  

 Finding hope

If you sense changes in your mood, talk to your doctor. She can tell if you have a mood disorder, and if so, which one. She will also make sure your symptoms are not caused by other health issues.

Treatments can help manage symptoms. Relief is possible with a combination of medicine, talk therapy, and healthy habits.

There is hope. Recovery help can include support services by those with lived experience in mental health recovery.

Resources

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

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org/Find-Support
(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/ency/article/001550.htm; 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
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Associate CMO, Operations, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
  • Mood swings from high to low may seem mild to some, or distressing to others.
  • More extreme highs and lows may mean you have bipolar I or II.

Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder. It is also called cyclothymia. It consists of emotional highs and lows. It shifts how people feel and act.

The mood states of bipolar disorders are called episodes. These are not just routine ups and downs. The symptoms can cause problems with relationships, work, and school.

The exact number of people with a bipolar disorder is not easy to establish. It is estimated that more than 10 million people in the U.S. have a bipolar condition.

Bipolar disorders include:

  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder

The symptoms of cyclothymia are not as harsh as those in bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. In fact, others may see it as just moodiness. The stronger symptoms of bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder can hurt relationships, jobs, and cause trouble with the law. Some of the symptoms are shared or the same. The difference in intensity is key to matching the right care.

Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia involves mood swings between highs and lows. The high is called hypomania. The highs can involve greater activity, excitement, and energy. There may be feelings of great joy for no reason and strong self-confidence.

The lows can feel like depression, leading to low mood and energy levels. Even though symptoms can be mild, they can still cause distress in all parts of life for some. For others, the symptoms may seem too mild to treat.

The disorder is fairly rare. Some studies say that between 15 percent and 50 percent of people first diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder go on to have or are later diagnosed with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. In some, it becomes life-long or in others it goes away with time and treatment. People who have it may also have other health issues. Taking action to get well and to get support gives hope that recovery can happen.

Bipolar I disorder

Bipolar I disorder brings very strong mood swings. The highs, called mania, can cause someone to feel full of energy. There are often grandiose feelings. For instance, someone may think that she is better than others. Or that he deserves special care. Or, someone may believe she has a special talent that does not exist.

Mania can also lead to unsafe activities, sometimes needing a hospital stay. The lows lead to feeling sad and hopeless. In between there can be normal moods or hypomania, which is milder than mania. The mood swings of bipolar I disorder can be so strong that upset daily life is upset. Other people will notice mood changes in someone with bipolar I disorder.

The average age at which bipolar I disorder starts is 18. Yet older and younger people do get it. Men and women are equally affected. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar I disorder to also have other mental health issues. The suicide risk among those with bipolar I disorder is much higher than in those who do not have it. This is why treatment, recovery supports, and actively taking part in wellness plans are key.

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar disorders often start with major depressive-like symptoms. The main difference between bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder is that there is no mania in bipolar II disorder.

Bipolar II disorder often starts in the teen years, but it can start later in life. It is more common to see later onset in bipolar II disorder than in bipolar I disorder. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar II disorder to also have other mental health issues. Suicide risk is much higher for this group than in those who do not have it. Again, this makes treatment and other recovery supports vital.

Overview of each type of bipolar disorder

Cyclothymic DisorderBipolar I DisorderBipolar II Disorder
Periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms for at least two years (one or more years in kids and teens)One manic episode, before or after a hypomanic or major depressive episodeAt least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode, but no manic episodes

 

Hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for half the time, with no more than two symptom-free months in a row

  

 

Mood swings are not as sharp as those in major depressive disorder, bipolar I disorder, and bipolar II disorder

  

 Finding hope

If you sense changes in your mood, talk to your doctor. She can tell if you have a mood disorder, and if so, which one. She will also make sure your symptoms are not caused by other health issues.

Treatments can help manage symptoms. Relief is possible with a combination of medicine, talk therapy, and healthy habits.

There is hope. Recovery help can include support services by those with lived experience in mental health recovery.

Resources

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

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org/Find-Support
(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/ency/article/001550.htm; 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
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Associate CMO, Operations, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
  • Mood swings from high to low may seem mild to some, or distressing to others.
  • More extreme highs and lows may mean you have bipolar I or II.

Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder. It is also called cyclothymia. It consists of emotional highs and lows. It shifts how people feel and act.

The mood states of bipolar disorders are called episodes. These are not just routine ups and downs. The symptoms can cause problems with relationships, work, and school.

The exact number of people with a bipolar disorder is not easy to establish. It is estimated that more than 10 million people in the U.S. have a bipolar condition.

Bipolar disorders include:

  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder

The symptoms of cyclothymia are not as harsh as those in bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. In fact, others may see it as just moodiness. The stronger symptoms of bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder can hurt relationships, jobs, and cause trouble with the law. Some of the symptoms are shared or the same. The difference in intensity is key to matching the right care.

Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia involves mood swings between highs and lows. The high is called hypomania. The highs can involve greater activity, excitement, and energy. There may be feelings of great joy for no reason and strong self-confidence.

The lows can feel like depression, leading to low mood and energy levels. Even though symptoms can be mild, they can still cause distress in all parts of life for some. For others, the symptoms may seem too mild to treat.

The disorder is fairly rare. Some studies say that between 15 percent and 50 percent of people first diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder go on to have or are later diagnosed with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. In some, it becomes life-long or in others it goes away with time and treatment. People who have it may also have other health issues. Taking action to get well and to get support gives hope that recovery can happen.

Bipolar I disorder

Bipolar I disorder brings very strong mood swings. The highs, called mania, can cause someone to feel full of energy. There are often grandiose feelings. For instance, someone may think that she is better than others. Or that he deserves special care. Or, someone may believe she has a special talent that does not exist.

Mania can also lead to unsafe activities, sometimes needing a hospital stay. The lows lead to feeling sad and hopeless. In between there can be normal moods or hypomania, which is milder than mania. The mood swings of bipolar I disorder can be so strong that upset daily life is upset. Other people will notice mood changes in someone with bipolar I disorder.

The average age at which bipolar I disorder starts is 18. Yet older and younger people do get it. Men and women are equally affected. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar I disorder to also have other mental health issues. The suicide risk among those with bipolar I disorder is much higher than in those who do not have it. This is why treatment, recovery supports, and actively taking part in wellness plans are key.

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar disorders often start with major depressive-like symptoms. The main difference between bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder is that there is no mania in bipolar II disorder.

Bipolar II disorder often starts in the teen years, but it can start later in life. It is more common to see later onset in bipolar II disorder than in bipolar I disorder. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar II disorder to also have other mental health issues. Suicide risk is much higher for this group than in those who do not have it. Again, this makes treatment and other recovery supports vital.

Overview of each type of bipolar disorder

Cyclothymic DisorderBipolar I DisorderBipolar II Disorder
Periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms for at least two years (one or more years in kids and teens)One manic episode, before or after a hypomanic or major depressive episodeAt least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode, but no manic episodes

 

Hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for half the time, with no more than two symptom-free months in a row

  

 

Mood swings are not as sharp as those in major depressive disorder, bipolar I disorder, and bipolar II disorder

  

 Finding hope

If you sense changes in your mood, talk to your doctor. She can tell if you have a mood disorder, and if so, which one. She will also make sure your symptoms are not caused by other health issues.

Treatments can help manage symptoms. Relief is possible with a combination of medicine, talk therapy, and healthy habits.

There is hope. Recovery help can include support services by those with lived experience in mental health recovery.

Resources

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

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org/Find-Support
(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/ency/article/001550.htm; 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
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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