Cyclothymic disorder

Definition

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.

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

Exams and Tests

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.

Treatment

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.

Support Groups

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.

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 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.


Review Date: 9/19/2012
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.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.