Home Mental Health & Well-Being Cyclothymic Disorder: Understanding the Mood Swings

Cyclothymic Disorder: Understanding the Mood Swings

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Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a mood disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population. It is a milder form of bipolar disorder and is characterised by recurrent episodes of hypomania and mild depression. 

Symptoms of cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is characterised by cyclical mood swings that can last for days, weeks, or months. During the hypomanic phase, individuals may experience increased energy, talkativeness, decreased need for sleep, and elevated mood. They may also engage in impulsive or risky behaviours such as overspending or substance abuse. In contrast, during the depressive phase, individuals may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, low energy, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns. The mood swings in cyclothymic disorder are less severe than those in bipolar disorder, but they can still interfere with daily functioning and quality of life.

Causes of cyclothymic disorder

The exact cause of cyclothymic disorder is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurochemical factors. There is evidence to suggest that cyclothymic disorder runs in families and that certain genes may increase susceptibility to the disorder. Environmental factors such as stress, trauma, and substance abuse can also trigger or exacerbate symptoms of cyclothymic disorder. Neurochemical imbalances in the brain, particularly involving the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, may also contribute to the development of cyclothymic disorder.

Diagnosis and treatment of cyclothymic disorder

Diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder is typically made by a mental health professional based on a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and family history. Because the symptoms of cyclothymic disorder can overlap with those of other mood disorders, it is important to rule out other possible causes of the mood swings, such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or substance-induced mood disorder.

Treatment of cyclothymic disorder may involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medications commonly used to treat cyclothymic disorder include mood stabilisers such as lithium, anticonvulsants, and atypical antipsychotics. These medications can help regulate mood swings and prevent episodes of hypomania and depression. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT), can help individuals learn coping strategies, improve interpersonal relationships, and manage stress.

Prognosis and outlook

With proper treatment and management, individuals with cyclothymic disorder can lead fulfilling lives. However, because cyclothymic disorder is a chronic condition, ongoing treatment is typically necessary to manage symptoms and prevent relapse. Individuals with cyclothymic disorder may also benefit from lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation or yoga.

Final thoughts

Cyclothymic disorder is a mood disorder characterised by recurrent episodes of hypomania and mild depression. Although it is a milder form of bipolar disorder, it can still interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. The exact cause of cyclothymic disorder is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurochemical factors. Treatment for cyclothymic disorder may involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy, and ongoing management is typically necessary to manage symptoms and prevent relapse. If you or a loved one are experiencing mood swings that are interfering with daily functioning or quality of life, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide a comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and individualised treatment plan to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

If you are seeking more information or support regarding cyclothymic disorder, there are many resources available online, including mental health organisations, support groups, and forums. Remember, seeking help for mental health concerns is a sign of strength, not weakness, and can lead to a happier, healthier life.

Cyclothymic disorder is a mood disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population. It is characterised by cyclical mood swings that can last for days, weeks, or months, and can interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. Treatment for cyclothymic disorder may involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy, and ongoing management is typically necessary to manage symptoms and prevent relapse. If you or a loved one are experiencing mood swings, it is important to seek professional help to receive a comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and individualised treatment plan.


Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle. 

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