Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) in which a person has mood swings over a period of years that go from mild depression to emotional highs.
The causes of cyclothymic disorder are unknown. Major depression, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymia often occur together in families. This suggests that these mood disorders share similar causes.
Cyclothymia usually begins early in life. It appears to be equally common in men and women.
The diagnosis is usually based on your mood history. Your health care providers may order blood and urine tests to rule out medical causes of mood swings.
Mood stabilizing medication, antidepressants, talk therapy, or some combination of these three therapies may be used to treat cyclothymic disorder.
Some of the more commonly used mood stabilizers are:
Some people with cyclothymia may not respond to medications as well as patients with bipolar disorder.
As with other illnesses, you can ease the stress of living with cyclothymia by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.
Less than half of people with cyclothymic disorder will eventually develop bipolar disorder. In other people, cyclothymia will continue as a chronic condition or disappear with time.
The condition can progress to bipolar disorder.
Call a mental health professional if you or a loved one has persistent alternating periods of depression and excitement that negatively affect work, school, or social life. Seek immediate help if you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide.
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc. David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY.