Cyclothymic Disorder – Symptoms, Treatment And Prognosis

Cyclothymic disorder is also known by the name cyclothymia.  The American Psychological Association describes this mental disorder as a type of mood disorder.  A person suffering from this illness will feel extreme emotions that are both good and bad. 

When a person with cyclothymic disorder feels happy, they will feel extremely elated and joyful.  However, they may also feel extreme sadness on the other end of the spectrum.  Instead of just being sad, a person who has been diagnosed with this mental disorder will feel very depressed. 

The moods of a person who suffers from this illness may change immediately from one extreme to the next.  They may also have a period of time in between the ups and downs where they feel more normal.  Cyclothymic disorder is often described by mental health professionals as being a milder form of bipolar disorder, which is also characterized by the extreme highs and lows that a person experiences. 

This mental illness is not very common, but many professionals fear that many people suffering from this disorder have not been diagnosed properly, if at all, which could affect the statistics as to how many people have this disorder.

Symptoms – Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder has been shown to develop during the younger years of a person’s life.  While some mental disorders may be more likely to strike one gender more than the other, studies show that men and women are equally affected by cyclothymic disorder. 

Genetics play into acquiring this mental illness, as those who have family members with the disorder are more likely to get it than those without a family history of this illness.

Having extreme mood changes is the most noticeable symptom of this disorder.  The extreme highs are known as hypomanic.  This is characterized by common symptoms such as euphoric feelings and an overwhelming sense of happiness. 

Other symptoms associated with the hypomanic phase include indulgent spending, bad decisions, fast speech, lack of concentration, and excess physical or sexual activity.  On the other end, the depressive phase is the down phase, completely opposite from the hypomanic stage. 

A person suffering from cyclothymic disorder may feel overwhelming sadness and depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, insomnia, and a change in eating habits.  They will also feel less energized and shy away from physical or sexual activities during this phase. 

The symptoms of cyclothymic disorder are identical to those seen in bipolar disorder, only on a less extreme level.  The first few years after being diagnosed with this disorder will not be as extreme.  However, after a few years, the symptoms will become worse if left untreated.

As with many other mental disorders, there is no test that will automatically diagnose a patient.  However, a doctor who is experienced in handling mental disorders will evaluate the patient to first make sure that no other disease or disorder is causing their symptoms.  The doctor will then perform a mental evaluation and look at the symptoms and behavior of the patient to see if he or she has cyclothymic disorder.

Treatment

Cyclothymic disorder is a condition that does not have a cure.  Anyone who is diagnosed with this mental illness will need to continue treatment throughout the course of his or her entire life to help keep his or her mood and behavior under control.  There are several treatment options that those suffering from this disorder can take advantage of.

Medications are commonly prescribed to a patient with cyclothymic disorder.  There are a variety of different medications created to help alleviate the symptoms and allow a person to live their life unhindered by this disorder.  Mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications are commonly prescribed to treat the various symptoms associated with cyclothymic disorder.

Therapy with a counselor is also recommended for anyone who suffers from this disorder.  Individual therapy can help a patient get out his or her feelings and frustrations that they are experiencing.  Family therapy is also important, allowing a patient to tell his or her loved ones what they are feeling in order to get them to understand what he or she is going through. 

Group therapy is also an option, allowing a patient to be around others who are experiencing the same highs and lows that he or she goes through.  It is extremely important to talk about this disorder with someone to help a person get through the hard times that they face. 

Talking things out, whether one on one or in a group setting, has been found to be one of the most effective types of treatments for many mental disorders, including cyclothymic disorder.

Prognosis

There is no cure for cyclothymic disorder, but it can be effectively treated and managed under a doctor’s care.  While the disorder itself is not life threatening, suicidal thoughts and actions can be very dangerous, leading to death or hospitalization if the disorder is left untreated. 

Cyclothymic disorder can also develop into bipolar disorder if not managed effectively, leading to more extreme and severe actions and feelings.  This is why it is extremely important to begin treatment as soon as symptoms begin to appear and do not go away immediately.  As symptoms begin to get worse, the quality of life of a person suffering from this disorder will begin to decrease dramatically, so getting treated is a must.

If you or someone you love goes through periods of extreme highs and lows, feeling happy and elated one day, then depressed and anxious the next, it is possible that you are suffering from cyclothymic disorder. 

It is necessary for anyone who experiences these symptoms over a period of time report to their doctor for evaluation immediately so a care plan can be put in place as soon as possible. 

Cyclothymic disorder does not get better when it is not treated.  In fact, untreated cases often get far worse.  Only a doctor will be able to properly diagnose and start your treatment.  It is mandatory to get help in this situation in order to begin the healing process and keep this disorder under control.

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