Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that affects mood, in which those suffering have episodes of high highs and low lows. There are four main types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic and mixed bipolar disorder. All display swings in energy levels, moods and activity levels but in varying degrees.
Cyclothymic disorder is thought to be a milder form of bipolar disorder, indicated by mild depression and episodes of hypomania with symptoms persisting for at least two years in adults and one year in children. Those diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for any of the other three forms of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymic disorder usually manifests in adolescence or early adulthood, and according to Psych Central, it affects up to one percent of the population.
Differentiating Cyclothymic Disorder
Due to its somewhat milder nature and more subtle symptoms, cyclothymic disorder is difficult to diagnose and often misdiagnosed if it’s diagnosed at all. Depression is not as severe in someone suffering from cyclothymic disorder as it is in someone suffering from bipolar II disorder, for example.
One of the most striking differences of cyclothymic disorder in relation to the other forms of bipolar disorder is the way in which the hypomanic state manifests. Hypomania is indicated by an elevated mood in which the person involved is highly animated and positive. For someone suffering from cyclothymic disorder, these periods of hypomania also include less need for sleep. Someone in a hypomanic episode will sleep less and, unlike other forms of bipolar disorder, they will not feel tired.
Hypomania is often also connected to a specific person. Many times, this is a new relationship that doesn’t last once the newness wears off and so do the infatuation and heightened mood. These episodes of hypomania are short-lived, and feelings of rejection and depression soon follow. Those suffering from cyclothymic disorder are highly sensitive to this rejection. Relationships are often negatively affected by those suffering from cyclothymic disorder.
In order to obtain a diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder, symptoms must be chronic, and these episodes of hypomania or depression must not extend longer than two months at a time.
Managing Cyclothymic Disorder
Bipolar disorder, and especially cyclothymic disorder, can often be managed successfully with proper diagnosis and treatment. Typically, a loved one can be a great resource in helping a medical professional to diagnose someone with cyclothymic disorder, as they often know their loved one’s mood swings and patterns better than anyone else.
Some specific tools to help manage symptoms include:
- Maintaining a structured schedule and routine
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol, as substance abuse can exacerbate symptoms
- Avoiding caffeine after noon as it can interfere with sleep
- Psychotherapy to help understand triggers
While it may seem simple, keeping a consistent eating, sleeping, waking, and exercise schedule can keep your circadian rhythms consistent, which promotes stable moods. Drugs and alcohol can also make symptoms worse, increasing mood swings. Both alcohol and caffeine interfere with proper sleep habits as well.
Getting treatment for cyclothymic disorder is important to long-term recovery and can really make a difference in helping to manage and regulate moods and symptoms. Psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a vital tool that helps individuals learn what may trigger episodes of hypomania or depression and how to manage or avoid them. Black Bear Lodge not only strives to treat the disorder but also really focuses on the individual, promoting physical and emotional wellness through many successful treatment methods. Call for more comprehensive information today.