Cyclothymic mood disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a chronic mood disorder characterized by recurring periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms that are less severe and shorter in duration compared to those in bipolar disorder. Individuals with cyclothymic disorder experience shifts in mood that fluctuate between these two states.
An example of a cyclothymic disorder would be a person who regularly experiences periods of elevated mood, increased energy, and productivity (hypomania) followed by periods of mild depression or sadness. These mood swings may not be as extreme as those seen in bipolar disorder but can still disrupt daily functioning and overall well-being.
The main difference between cyclothymia and bipolar disorder is the intensity and duration of mood episodes. In cyclothymia, the mood swings are milder and do not meet the criteria for full-blown manic or major depressive episodes required for a bipolar diagnosis. In bipolar disorder, individuals experience distinct episodes of mania or hypomania and major depression. Additionally, cyclothymia tends to have a chronic and stable course, whereas bipolar disorder often involves more severe episodes and may show greater variability over time.
Diagnosing cyclothymia typically involves a comprehensive assessment by a mental health professional. The diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) include the presence of numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms persisting for at least two years (one year in children and adolescents). The symptoms should not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, manic episode, or hypomanic episode during this time.
Symptoms of cyclothymia can vary but may include periods of elevated or irritable mood, increased energy or activity levels, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, distractibility, decreased appetite, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in appetite or weight, and problems with concentration or decision-making.
Treatment for cyclothymic disorder often involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals better understand and manage their mood swings, develop coping strategies, and improve overall functioning. Medications such as mood stabilizers or antidepressants may be prescribed to help stabilize mood and manage symptoms.
It's important to consult with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to individual needs.