Cyclothymia- what is it & who can have it?

Cyclothymia or cyclothymic disorder is a mild mood disorder. The disorder is quite a rare one with only 0.7% of the world’s population having it at some point in their life. This rare mood disorder causes emotional ups and downs but not as extreme as those in bipolar disorder. The low and high mood swings never reach the severity or the duration of big depressive episodes.

With this disorder, you can experience your mood shifting up or down within a matter of minutes. You may feel on top of the world for a while, followed by a low period. Between these cyclothymic highs and lows, you may feel stable or fine. Although the up and down moods are not as extreme as a full-blown bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek the help of a therapist as these ups and downs can hinder your ability to function and increase your chances of bipolar disorder with time.


Cyclothymia symptoms are similar to that of bipolar I or II disorder, but less severe. During the highs of Cyclothymia, one may experience an elevated mood or also known as hypomania. The lows might consist of mild or moderate depressive symptoms. These highs & lows and the unpredictable nature of your mood can hinder your day to day life as you’ll never know how you’re going to feel the next minute.

Hypomania Symptoms

- Inflated self-esteem

- Extreme optimism

- Irritable or agitated behaviour

- Short attention span

- Racing thoughts

- Decreased need for sleep

Depressive Symptoms

- Feeling empty or hopeless

- Sleep problems

- Loss of interest

- Suicidal tendencies

- A feeling of guilt and worthlessness

- Loss of weight


Experts and researchers say that Cyclothymia is a mild form of Bipolar Disorder but no one is sure about the cause of Cyclothymia in particular. Genetics are responsible for the development of these disorders. People with Cyclothymia are more likely to have a family history of bipolar disorder and vice versa. Like many other mental disorders, Cyclothymia might be a combination of:

- Heredity

- Brain’s neurobiology

- and Environment (Traumatic experiences)


There isn’t a definite way of treating Cyclothymia and it frequently goes untreated and undiagnosed. As a matter of fact, many times the symptoms are so mild that people do not seek mental health. The depressive symptoms of Cyclothymia are more frequent, unpleasant, and disabling at times.

Although mood stabilizers such as lithium and lamotrigine are recommended by many doctors as a possible way to reduce the mood fluctuations, there’s no medicine specifically approved to treat Cyclothymia. Unless one develops a full-blown depression, antidepressants like Zoloft or Prozac are not recommended. Cyclothymia doesn’t get better on its own so seeking medical help is the right way to go. If someone you know is suffering from Cyclothymia, talk openly and honestly to them about their problem, offer your support, and help them find a therapist who can help them.

The best and most advisable way to handle this condition or a loved one suffering from the disorder is by offering them physical and mental support during their episodes and communicating clearly about the way they feel and their experience.

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