what is cyclothymia?

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Cyclothymia (pronounced as si-klo-THIGH-me-uh) or cyclothymic disorder is a mood disorder which can be comparable to bipolar disorder. It causes emotional ups and downs between short periods, and the shifting of mood from high and low never reaches the severity of a full manic episode or major depression.

People who have cyclothymic disorder have moods fluctuate from hypomania and depression and back again. The pattern for the mood swings is very unpredictable and irregular. It can last for days or even weeks. In between this mood swings; a person can have normal moods that can last for more than a month. The episodes of depression or hypomania may occur again with no normal period in between.

Some people who have this disorder can be highly successful in their life. The hypomania they experience can motivate them to strive hard and express their individual skills and talents. On the other hand, episodes of depression and irritability can ruin relationships, both personal and professional. In the U.S. population, 0.4% to 1% has cyclothymic disorder. The onset of cyclothymia in people is often hard to identify, men and women are affected equally and have symptoms present beginning from adolescence or young adulthood.

Many people who are experiencing this disorder are undiagnosed and untreated. Most of them have symptoms that are mild enough that they are not interested in seeking mental health treatment. No medicines are specifically approved to treat this disorder, although certain mood stabilizers are prescribed to patients such as Lithium and Seroquel to manage mood fluctuations. Prozac and Zoloft which are popular antidepressants are generally not prescribed unless the person develops full major depression.

Lastly, psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT can be very effective. A trained therapist can help patients find ways in managing the problems brought by cyclothymia by changing the way they think and behave. When elevated or depressed moods become more serious, a person may no longer have cyclothymia but rather have bipolar disorder

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