Cyclothymic disorder

Definition

Cyclothymic disorder is a mental disorder. It 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.

Causes

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.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests

The diagnosis is usually based on your mood history. Your health care provider may order blood and urine tests to rule out medical causes of mood swings.

Treatment

Treatments for this disorder include mood-stabilizing medicine, antidepressants, talk therapy, or some combination of these three treatments.

Some of the more commonly used mood stabilizers are lithium and antiseizure medicines.

Some people with cyclothymia may not respond to medications as well as patients with bipolar disorder.

Support Groups

You can ease the stress of living with cyclothymic disorder by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Less than half of people with cyclothymic disorder go on to develop bipolar disorder. In other people, cyclothymia continues as a chronic condition or disappears with time.

Possible Complications

The condition can progress to bipolar disorder.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call a mental health professional if you or a loved one has alternating periods of depression and excitement that do not go away and that affect work, school, or social life. Seek help right away if you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide.


Review Date: 9/2/2014
Reviewed By: Timothy Rogge, MD, Medical Director, Family Medical Psychiatry Center, Kirkland, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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