Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar disorder, characterized by alternating episodes of mood swings from mild or moderate depression to hypomania. Hypomania is defined as periods of elevated mood, euphoria and excitement that do not cause the person to become disconnected from reality. The hypomanic and depressive episodes of cyclothymia generally don't prevent people with the disorder from engaging in their normal activities at work or school or in social situations. However, the unpredictable nature of cyclothymia, the sudden shift to a hypomanic or depressive period, and behaviors associated with these moods can significantly disrupt your life. The constant cycling between stable and symptomatic mood states often leads to short-lived or strained relationships, insecure self-identity, job instability, uneven performance in school, a history of ambitious but unfulfilled endeavors, or patterns of risky behaviors in sexual encounters or drug and alcohol use. Treatment for cyclothymia can include a variety of Cognitive and behavioural techniques. Additionally, Mood stabilizers , such as Lithium and anticonvulsants , are often prescribed in low doses to treat cyclothymia.
Causes of Cyclothymia
Cyclothymia appears to have a significant genetic contribution, which has been shown by a range of twin studies involving dizygotic (fraternal) and monozygotic (identical) twins.
Psychosocial factors have also been implicated, for example stressful life events or living conditions, and interpersonal difficulties. In addition, some theories posit that the hypomanic episodes have meaning in the context of a person seeking to achieve goals or to avoid depression
Signs and Symptoms of Cyclothymia
Zig-zagging from periods of elation to gloom
Unable to maintain enthusiasm for new projects due to mood changes
Personal Relationship Problems due to influence of moods causing a constant "pulling close and pushing away" of emotions
Abrupt changes in personality from cheerful, confident and energetic to sad, blue or "mean"
Sleep difficulties are prominent, with affected persons sleeping little during hypomania, and "unable to get out of bed" during depression.
Treatment for Cyclothymia
In some cases individuals may prefer no treatment or supportive psychotherapy alone. Lithium, a mood stabilizer used commonly in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, has been proven to help a substantial number of people with Cyclothymia.
Anticonvulsants, such as valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex (Depakote) and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol) also useful for Cyclothymia.
There is little research on the treatment of Cyclothymic Disorder . Generally, research is showing that the medications that are effective in treating Bipolar I Disorder are also effective in Cyclothymic Disorder.
Mood stabilizers (e.g., lithium, carbamazepine and valproate) have been shown to be effective. Antidepressant medication (tricyclic antidepressant medication) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of this disorder. Thyroid augmentation of antidepressant medication is often helpful.
Psychoeducation (teaching patients and their families about this illness) significantly improves patient compliance and family cooperation.
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