February 1, 2017

Cyclothymia, commonly known as Cyclothymic Disorder, is a chronic mood disorder, characterized by severe and persistent mood swings that are unrelated to life circumstances. It consists of mood swings between the lows of depression and the highs of hypomania, or feeling euphoric, energized, and driven.

The mood instability – mild elation or mild depression – is related to bipolar disorder (which was formerly known as manic depression) and is in fact considered to be a milder form of bipolar disorder. Though less severe, cyclothymia can have great impact on a person’s life, where unexpected and extreme mood changes disrupt the ability to function normally.

Persons with cyclothymic disorder differ in the relative proportion of depressive versus hypomanic episodes that they experience. Some individuals have more frequent depressive episodes, whereas others are more likely to feel hypomanic. Most individuals who seek help for the disorder alternate between feelings of mild depression and intense irritability.

Both men and women are equally likely to suffer from cyclothymia, affecting up to 1% of the population. Cyclothymic disorder generally starts appearing during young adulthood, though it may also first occur at a later age.


Genetic factors appear to be causative in cyclothymia as they do in the Bipolar Disorders. Many of those affected have a family history of major depression, bipolar disorder, suicide or alcohol/drug dependence. About 30% of all patients with cyclothymia have family histories of bipolar I disorder, which involves full-blown manic episodes alternating with periods of relative emotional stability. Bipolar disorder, like other mental illnesses, does not occur because of a single gene. It appears likely that many different genes act together, and in combination with other factors of the individual or the individual’s environment.

Most psychodynamic theorists believe that the psychosocial origins of cyclothymia lie in early traumas and unmet needs dating back to the earliest stages of childhood development. Hypomania has been described as a deficiency of self-criticism and an absence of inhibitions. The patient is believed to use denial to avoid external problems and internal feelings of depression.


People with cyclothymia usually experience many weeks of low-level depression followed by an episode of mild mania that lasts several days. Depressive symptoms of cyclothymia may include –

  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Low sexual desire and function
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Inattentiveness, lack of concentration, or forgetfulness
  • Unexplained physical symptoms

The manic symptoms of cyclothymia may include –

  • Extremely high self-esteem
  • Excessive talking or speaking very quickly, sometimes so fast others have trouble following what the person is saying
  • Racing thoughts (muddled and disorganized)
  • Lack of focus
  • Restlessness and hyperactivity
  • Increased anxiety
  • Going for days with little or no sleep (without feeling tired)
  • Argumentative
  • Hyper-sexuality
  • Reckless or impulsive behavior

Some patients experience “mixed periods,” in which a combination of both manic and depressed symptoms occur within a very short time—one followed immediately by the other.


There is a 15%-50% risk that this disorder will subsequently develop into Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II Disorder.


Treatment options may include one or more of the following –

Medication is an important component of treatment for cyclothymic disorder. A class of drugs known as antimanic medications is usually the first line of treatment for these patients. Drugs such as lithium, carbamazepine (Tegretol), and sodium valproate (Depakene), have all been reported to be effective. While antidepressant medications might be prescribed, they should be used with caution, because these patients are highly susceptible to hypomanic or full-blown manic episodes induced by antidepressants

Psychotherapy with individuals diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder is best directed toward increasing the patient’s awareness of his or her condition and helping to develop effective coping strategies for mood swings. Often, considerable work is needed to improve the patient’s relationships with family members and workplace colleagues because of damage done to these relationships during hypomanic episodes. Because cyclothymic disorder is a lifelong condition, psychotherapy is also a long-term commitment. Working with families of cyclothymic patients can help them adjust more effectively to the patients’ mood swings as well.

Lifestyle changes may help increase the balance in the life. It is important to take care of thesymptoms as they arise, and to manage the treatment when feeling well.

Alternative Treatment

Vitamin D studies suggest supported a correlation between low vitamin D and depression.

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fats. These fats support the functioning of the brain and improves mood and affect. Fish oil can also help reduce the occurrence of manic episodes.

SAMe, or S-adenosylmethionine, is a co-enzyme that has been researched extensively and has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression.

N-Acetylcysteine – may help with bipolar depression.

L-Methylfolate – may help some people with a specific deficiency with depression.

St. John’s wort, whose therapeutic use dates back to ancient Greece, is one of the better-known natural mood enhancers.

Rhodiola officially known as rhodiola rosea, this herb has been used for years to help manage stress. Now, new evidence has demonstrated rhodiola’s positive effect on people suffering from depression.

Gingko Biloba is an extract of the gingko tree and is an herb that will help in boosting the memory. It will help in improving the blood flow to the brain and will help in improving the memory function of the brain. It is also an antioxidant by nature.

Passionflower is a very effective home remedy when it comes to bipolar disorder. The herb will offer a soothing effect to the nerves which will help in providing the right balance of the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Valerian Root is a home remedy to treat bipolar disorder. It has strong sedative properties that will help in providing good sleep to people suffering from sleep disorder problems.

Licorice is another natural herb that you can use to treat bipolar disorder problems effectively. It is one of the few natural herbs that can be used to treat a lot of symptoms associated with cyclothymia.

Flaxseed oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid that is a kind of omega 3 fatty acids that will help in reducing the symptoms of bipolar disorder to a great extent.

Black snakeroot or Black Chosh is a type of natural herb that will work as a nervous system depressant and can help in treating bipolar disorder. The herb also has sedative properties that will help to get rid of a few bipolar disorder symptoms.

Ginseng is important natural herb that will help in improving the functions of the brain. It is a very good herb that will help in improving concentration power, duration of the attention as well as the memory level of bipolar disorder patients.

Lithium is found to be a very effective home remedy for bipolar disorder and is suggested by medical community widely.

L-tyrosine is a non essential amino acid that has been found to be very effective in treating bipolar disorder symptoms. It is important for the patients suffering from bipolar disorder to increase amino acids in their body and this can be easily achieved by taking L-tyrosine supplements.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular short-term option. CBT teaches skills to deal with and challenge everyday thoughts and assumptions. CBT attempts to change thought patterns as a treatment of bipolar without medication.

Interpersonal psychotherapy is also medication-free. Psychotherapy may be time-consuming but can be very helpful for those with longstanding personal issues that are contributing to unstable mental health.

Exercise is a natural treatment for depression and in some cases, acts as effectively as an antidepressant. Exercise is also beneficial for sleep, overall health and some researchers believe it acts as a mood stabilizer as well.


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