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Cyclothymic Disorder

By

William Coryell

, MD, Carver College of Medicine at University of Iowa

Last full review/revision Mar 2020| Content last modified Mar 2020
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NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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In cyclothymic disorder, relatively mild and short episodes of elation (hypomania) alternate with mild and short episodes of sadness (depression).

Cyclothymic disorder resembles bipolar disorder but is less severe. The episodes of elation and sadness are less intense, typically last for only a few days, and recur fairly often at irregular intervals. This disorder may develop into bipolar disorder or may continue as extreme moodiness.

Having cyclothymic disorder may contribute to success in business, leadership, achievement, and artistic creativity. However, it may also result in uneven work and school records, frequent change of residence, repeated romantic breakups or marital failure, and alcohol use and other substance use disorders.

Doctors diagnose cyclothymic disorder based on the distinctive pattern of symptoms.

Treatment

  • Education and support

  • Sometimes drugs that stabilize mood

People with cyclothymic disorder need to learn how to live with the extremes of their temperamental inclinations. However, living with cyclothymic disorder is not easy because interpersonal relationships are often stormy. Getting a job with flexible hours or, for people with artistic inclinations, pursuing a career in the arts may make it easier.

A drug that stabilizes mood (such as lithium or an antiseizure drug) may be used if cyclothymic disorder makes functioning difficult. People may tolerate the antiseizure drug divalproex better than lithium. Antidepressants are not used unless depression is severe and has lasted a long time because they can cause rapid switching from one mood to the other (rapid cycling).

Support groups can help by providing a forum to share common experiences and feelings.

More Information

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
LITHOBID
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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