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Cyclothymia (pronounced sigh-klo-THIGH-me-uh) is also called cyclothymic disorder.
Cyclothymia is a mood disorder related to bipolar disorder. In the same way that dysthymia is a long lasting, but less intense version of depression than major depression, cyclothymia is a scaled down version of bipolar disorder.
The highs and lows of people with cyclothymia are less extreme than the mood changes in bipolar disorder, although they are more troublesome than the usual ups and downs of life. Cyclothymia can lead to disturbed personal relationships, difficulties at work, and alcohol or drug abuse. Often these problems are regarded as the person's normal way of being, and the underlying mood disorder goes unnoticed and untreated.
The pattern can begin early in life (in the teens or twenties) and last indefinitely. It is equally common in both sexes.
Treatment can reduce the duration and intensity of symptoms. It can also reduce the risk of developing an episode of major depression or mania. (As many as a quarter or half of people with this mood pattern will ultimately be diagnosed with bipolar disorder).
The "high" part of cyclothymia is known as hypomania, which is a less intense version of mania. Symptoms include inflated self-esteem, a decreased need for sleep, rapid speech and thinking, agitation or increased activity, and poor judgment about pleasure seeking. Symptoms of the "low" part of cyclothymia, known simply as depression, include sadness and pessimism, guilt and self-criticism, poor concentration, low-energy, and changes in appetite and sleep.
If these symptoms become severe enough, the diagnosis may be changed to major depression or bipolar disorder.
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