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A rare mood disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder causes emotional ups and downs. They aren’t as intense as the highs and lows of emotions in either Bipolar I or II Disorder. In Cyclothymic Disorder, an individual will have times when his emotions are clearly shifted up and down from normal, such as feeling great followed by a period of feeling low or down. In between these emotional highs and lows, a person may feel fine and can function in his everyday life–but he may not always be able to accomplish tasks very well. With the unpredictability of the shifts in mood, it may impact a person’s life, because he doesn’t know how he’s going to feel.

While Cyclothymic Disorder’s ups and downs are less severe than in bipolar disorder, it’s vital to seek therapy to help manage the symptoms that can disrupt functioning and increase the chances of developing Bipolar I or II Disorder. The onset of Cyclothymic Disorder is in adolescence or early adulthood, but it can also develop in children, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Causes of Cyclothymic Disorder

Genetic data strongly supports that Cyclothymic Disorder is a mood disorder, with about 30 percent of all people with it having family histories of Bipolar I Disorder ( Prevalence of Cyclothymic Disorder in families with Bipolar I diagnoses is much higher than in families with other mental disorders or in the general population. About a third of people diagnosed with Cyclothymic Disorder develop a major mood disorder. Theorists believe the origins of Cyclothymic Disorder may be in traumas and unmet needs that occurred in the earliest stages of childhood development. Hypomania is believed to be triggered by deep loss. The fake feelings of euphoria that occur in hypomania are a protection from painful feelings of sadness and can even be anger against a lost loved one.

According to the DSM-5, the following are the six diagnostic criteria for Cyclothymic Disorder:

  • For a span of 24 months at least, there have been euphoric and depressive instances that do not meet the full DSM-5 criteria for hypomania or major depressive disorder.
  • The criteria are present for half the time over 24 months without more than 60 days of the sings subsiding.
  • The symptoms can’t be because of schizophrenia, schizoaffective, schizophreniform or delusional disorders.
  • The symptoms aren’t explained by the use of substances or a medical condition.
  • The symptoms aggravate the individual’s social relationships and/or on the job.

Hypomanic Symptoms of Cyclothymia

Hypomania is a mood that is elevated or euphoric, but it’s less severe than full mania. Some of the hypomanic symptoms of Cyclothymic Disorder include:

  • Exaggerated feelings of happiness—euphoria.
  • Greatly optimistic.
  • Exaggerated self-esteem.
  • More talkative than normal.
  • Lack of good judgment that leads to risky behavior or irresponsible choices.
  • Thoughts race.
  • Irritable.
  • Extreme physical activity.
  • Heightened desire to perform or meet goals, such as in a career or socially.
  • Less need to sleep.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Unable to concentrate.

Depressive Symptoms of Cyclothymic Disorder

Some of the depressive signs that correspond to the lows of Cyclothymic Disorder include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless.
  • Feeling of emptiness.
  • Teary.
  • Lack of interest or enjoyment in activities that used to be pleasurable.
  • Irritability, particularly in children and adolescents.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Weight changes.
  • Feeling tired or slower.
  • Problems with sleep.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Restlessness.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

How is Cyclothymic Disorder Treated?

Therapy is integral in the treatment of Cyclothymic Disorder and can be provided in a few ways.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps to identify the person’s unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and offer healthy and positive ones. CBT works to find the triggers of the symptoms and teaches the strategies for coping with stress and dealing with situations that are upsetting.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy focuses on stabilizing daily rhythms like sleep and wake times, as well as mealtimes. Lifestyle issues are important in treating Cyclothymic Disorder, because a reliable routine works for better mood management. In addition, a routine for a nutritional diet and exercise is helpful. Healthy sleep patterns are integral, because poor sleep activates mood episodes. Caffeine should be avoided after Noon, which can greatly improve sleep. People who feel really tired can opt for a brisk walk, which will offer the same amount of energy as a caffeinated drink.
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol is critical. Alcohol abuse is common in people with Cyclothymic Disorder, because when they’re depressed they feel that having a few drinks will result in the relief of their stress. But, alcohol only makes mood disorders worse and, on top of that, it interferes with sleep. (Many people are under the impression that, because they fall asleep faster when they have a few alcoholic drinks, they sleep better. The fact is that they have a poor quality of sleep.) Alcohol and caffeine don’t allow people to graduate to the deep, restorative stage of sleep they need.

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