Cyclothymia: the mild version of bipolar disorder

the Cyclothymia (Or cyclothymic disorder) is a mood disorder similar to bipolar disorder, and is characterized by mild phases of depression and hypomania.

Adults are diagnosed with this disease after symptoms persist for at least two years. In children and adolescents, it is diagnosed if symptoms appear for at least a year.

Throughout this article we will see a summary of the characteristics of cyclothymia: its symptoms, possible causes and treatment.

What is cyclothymia?

Cyclothymia is characterized by a persistent mood instability. In other words, the person suffering from this disorder experiences periods of mild depression and euphoria. It usually appears in adulthood and follows a chronic course. Although it is common for several months, the person with cyclothymia shows normal mood.

The cyclothymic does not notice his mood swings because they are relatively mild. In addition, the euphoric periods they are generally perceived as pleasant and therefore it is common for them not to seek psychological help.

30% of people with cyclothymic disorder may end up with type I or type II bipolar disorder. Frequently, cyclothymia progresses to type II and less frequently to type I. The prevalence of cyclothymia is between 0.4 and 1% of cases and affects both men and women.

What is hypomania?

the hypomania it’s a slight craze. The hypomanic phase presented by the cyclothymic is characterized by high mood, euphoria, excitement and hyperactivity.

During the state of hypomania, the cyclothymic subject has less need to sleep and rest, and is full of energy. Although the symptoms of hypomania are milder than those of mania, they are also very destructive as they cause conflict and breakdown in romantic relationships and friendships, affect work, cause financial hardship, etc.


The person with cyclothymia shows ups and downs in their mood. Below, we present the characteristic symptoms of the phases of depression and hypomania.

Symptoms of hypomania

  • Slight euphoria
  • commotion
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Risky behaviors
  • infinite energy
  • Verborrhagia
  • Desire and will to succeed
  • High self-esteem or grandiosity

  • Acceleration of thought
  • Lack of attention

  • An exaggerated sense of happiness or well-being and extreme optimism
  • Lack of judgments
  • Aggressive or hostile behavior

  • excessive spending
  • Increased sexual activity
  • Less need for sleep

Symptoms of mild depression

  • Feelings of sadness
  • melancholy
  • anxiety

  • Feelings of guilt
  • Fatigue and lack of motivation
  • Lack of appetite or excessive consumption
  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously considered enjoyable
  • Decreased sexual desire

  • Concentration problems
  • irritability

the causes

The exact causes why a person develops cyclothymia are not known, although it is assumed that there is a multiplicity of factors involved in its emergence: it is a multicausal phenomenon, As in most psychological disorders. Thus, there are probably genetic predispositions involved, as well as triggering events related to what is going on around the person.

Treatment of cyclothymia

Cyclothymia causes many problems for the person suffering from this disorder. Therefore, psychological help should be sought as soon as possibleAs cyclothymia usually does not improve on its own and can progress to a more serious form of bipolar disorder.

1. Psychotherapy in intervention on cyclothymia

If you meet someone with cyclothymia, you need to talk to them openly and honestly. Without being able to force an individual to undergo therapy, it is possible to support and help them in difficult times.

the psychological therapy it is indicated to stabilize daily habits and seek the maximum possible regularity in the patient’s life.

Finally, people who live with cyclothymic on a daily basis can also benefit from psychotherapy to better manage the situation, because living with an individual suffering from this disorder can be complex.

2. Pharmacological treatment of cyclothymia

In addition, pharmacological treatment is also generally used to treat cyclothymia and alleviate its symptoms and signs in the short term. Among the types of psychotropic drugs most used in this form of intervention based on a more psychiatric perspective, the drugs that have been shown to be the most useful are mood stabilizers and sleeping pills (in low doses).

In the case of combining the pharmacological intervention in the treatment of cyclothymia with the psychotherapeutic approach, it is good that the latter addresses not only how the disorder is experienced, but also how it can be experienced. ‘adapt. The patient to the use and effects of psychotropic drugs.

Bibliographical references:

  • Commentary on Hecker and his work: Baethge, C; Salvatore, P; Baldessarini, RJ (September 2003). “Cyclothymia, a circular mood disorder.” History of psychiatry. 14 (55 Pt 3): pages 377-390.
  • Danner, Stephanie; Mary A. Fristad; L. Eugene Arnold; Eric A. Youngstrom; Boris Birmaher; Sarah M. Horwitz; Christine Demeter; Robert L. Findling; Robert A. Kowatch (2009). “Early-onset bipolar spectrum disorders: diagnostic issues”. Clinical review of child and family psychology. 12 (3): 271-293.
  • Edvardsen, J., Torgersen, S., Røysamb, E. et al. (2008). Heritability of bipolar spectrum disorders. Unity or heterogeneity? Journal of Affective Disorders, 106 (3): 229-240.
  • Perugi, G .; Hantouche, E .; Vannucchi, G. (2017). Diagnosis and treatment of cyclothymia: the “primacy” of temperament. Current neuropharmacology. 15 (3): pages 372 to 379.

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