Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar disorder. It is characterized by mood fluctuations that shift between depressive and hypomanic phases. Cyclothymics do not experience the extremes of major depression or manic episodes.
The depressive or hypomanic symptoms of cyclothymia may last for a few days to several weeks at a time, with brief intervals of normal mood in between. Personality changes are often evident to family and friends. Individuals who have a stable mood for longer than two months at a time are not likely cyclothymic. Symptoms may be mimicked by substance abuse, borderline personality disorder, or other mood disorder. A family history of depressive or bipolar disorders increases the risk.
Symptoms of Cyclothymia
- Excessive confidence and self-esteem
- Reduced ability to concentrate, easily distracted
- Sleep difficulties, excessive energy
- Heightened irritability
- Reduced inhibitions, may make foolish decisions
- Hypomania lasts between several days and several weeks
- Feelings of inadequacy, low self-confidence
- Difficulty falling asleep, unrestful sleep
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Negative thinking, feelings of guilt and sadness
- Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
- Depression lasting between several days and several weeks
The cycling between phases must be present for at least two years for a diagnosis (one year for teenagers). Work and family life are often negatively affected by the shifting moods.
Differences by Gender and Age
Cyclothymia, like the related bipolar disorder, affects men and women in roughly equal numbers. The disorder typically begins in the teenage or young adult years. Onset later in life is rare, and may be brought on by substance abuse or certain medications. Cyclothymia may progress to bipolar, though treatment may prevent this.
Books Covering Cyclothymic Disorder
Cyclothymia Workbook: Manage Your Mood Swings & Lead A Balanced Life
"Explores hereditary and stress-related possible causes of the disorder, as well as the history of the condition and its treatment."
Soft Bipolar: Vivid Thoughts, Mood Shifts and Swings, Depression, and Anxiety
"Cutting-edge help and information is now available on the misunderstood and often misdiagnosed milder mood disorders."