Question: What is Cyclothymia?
Cyclothymia is a form of bipolar disorder that most people haven't heard of. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM-IV), cyclothymia or cyclothymic disorder - also called (incorrectly) cyclothymia disorder and bipolar cyclothymia - is "a chronic, fluctuating mood disturbance involving numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and numerous periods of depressive symptoms." Simply translated, this means cyclothymia is a long-term condition where the person's moods cycle between hypomania - a "high" that can be mild to fairly severe but does not include delusions
or other psychotic features
- and depression, also mild to fairly severe but not incapacitating or suicidal.
Here's what goes into a diagnosis of cyclothymia:
Cyclothymia is not a "mild" form of bipolar disorder. Symptoms of severe hypomania can cause serious problems, and severe depression, even if not incapacitating, can make the life a person with cyclothymia very difficult.
- All the criteria are met for a hypomanic episode
- Symptoms do not qualify as manic or major depressive episodes
- Symptoms never ease up for more than two months
- There hasn't been a manic, mixed or major depressive episode in the first two years of symptoms
- Another disorder is not responsible for symptoms
- Symptoms are not caused by a drug or general medical condition
See Change Proposed for Definition and Diagnosing of Cyclothymia for an important update.