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Mood Disorders

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is considered, by many, to be a milder type of bipolar disorder. The individual will have hypomanic episodes and experience things that a person with bipolar would during their manic episodes, however it will not be at the same intensity. This is the same with the individual’s experience with depressive episodes. It will not get bad enough to get the diagnosis of major depression. The treatment response, symptomatology, family history and longitudinal course are all the same as with bipolar.


As mentioned earlier the depressive episodes in cyclothymic disorder are much less severe than they are in bipolar disorder. With cyclothymic disorder they are actually called “dysthymic episodes”. Dysthymic episodes include: insomnia, poor judgement, low self-esteem, guilt, difficulty making decisions, lack of motivation, lack of sexual drive, social withdrawal, and self-neglect, just to name a few.

Cyclothymic disorder’s milder manic episode is referred to as a hypomanic episode. Symptoms of these types of episodes include: tendency to be easily distracted, risky behavior, racing thoughts, rapid speech, good mood, increased self-esteem, aggressive behaviorincreased physical activity and inability to concentrate.


The cause of cyclothymic disorder is unknown. There is believed to be a genetic component to it as someone with a twin with cyclothymic disorder is two to three times more likely to get it than someone who does not have a twin. Clyclothymic disorder has also been known to co-occur with major depression and/or bipolar disorder.


Both therapy and medications play an important role in managing cyclothymic disorder. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are effective, as are atypical antipsychotics like quetiapine, olanzapine, and risperidone.

Anti-seizure medications are also known to work. These include valproic acid, lamotrigine and valproate semisodium. Antidepressants do not work; if anything generally worsen the condition.

There are many different therapies that have shown to be effective in the treatment of cyclothymic disorder. These include: cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, integrative therapy, group therapy, psychodynamic therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.


The prognosis is quite good for cyclothymic disorder. As mentioned earlier the longitudinal course is the same as bipolar disorder which means going through potentially long episodes over long periods of time. However, as it is not as severe as bipolar, many of the symptoms are not very debilitating. It is very common for people to go undiagnosed with cyclothymic disorder because of its mild manner. It can probably actually help improve the individual’s life. For example, during a hypomanic episode one can become quite focused and creative, which could assist them at work or at school.

Having said this, as mentioned earlier, cyclothymic disorder has been noted to have a close relationship with bipolar disorder and major depression. So monitoring is always recommended in order to pre-emptively deal with potentially worse mental health issues that could come along with your cyclothymic disorder.


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