Cyclothymia

Getting Started

The Authentic Recovery Center is a drug treatment center located in Los Angeles, California. We specialize in dual diagnosis treatment and offer multiple levels of care. If you would like to speak with us about our rehabilitation options call 1 877 415 4673 now.

Learning More

This section of the website will provide an overview of Bipolar disorder. Since Bipolar disorder is diagnostically broken down into four discrete categories, the following will focus on a single sub-category, Cyclothymia, outlining the basic information that is pertinent to this specific classification. Of necessity discussion will include a general summary of Bipolar disorder, followed by a brief overview of the symptoms and diagnostic criteria for Cyclothymia, concluding with an examination of current treatment methods.

General Overview of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formally referred to as manic–depressive disorder, is a clinical diagnosis that describes a class of mood disorders that is distinguished by the presence of recurring episodes of atypically heightened energy levels. In addition to heightened energy levels, individuals also experience elevated levels of thinking and mood, frequently accompanied by episodes of intense depression.

The periods in which one experience heightened moods are referred to as bouts of mania. It is not uncommon between phases of depression and mania for individuals to experience relatively stable periods, during which their moods occur on a more normal spectrum. However, it is also common for individuals to experience rapid changes in their moods, an occurrence that is referred to as cycling. Frequently, during extreme manic phases, individuals also experience some form of psychosis, which manifests as delusions or hallucinations. This range of experiences is referred to as the manic spectrum.

What is Cyclothymia?

Cyclothymia is a mood disorder that is diagnosed as a sub-class of Bipolar disorder. Like Bipolar disorder, the condition generates mood cycles that vacillate between highs and lows, but with distinctive differences from its Bipolar counter-parts. Diagnostically, the cycles of Cyclothymia – meaning the variations of up-swings and depressions – are not as severe or pervasive as that of either Bipolar I or Bipolar II. In fact, the depressive episodes that are generated by Cyclothymia are not actually referred to as depressions, but rather dysthymic episodes. Similarly, as is the case with Bipolar II, the elevated moods are not regarded as manic episodes, but as bouts of hypomania. Because it is subtle, hypomania is easy to miss, and frequently people are misdiagnosed with depression. Typically, individuals with Cyclothymia are well-adjusted, creative, and highly productive, displaying none of the destructive features that attend full blown mania. A diagnosis of Cyclothymia is only made where there is no history of mania and no history of major depressive episodes.

Symptoms of Cyclothymia

There are multiple symptoms of Cyclothymia, but the chief characteristic is hypomania. In this section we will outline the primary symptoms associated with the disorder, starting with the most predominant features.

  • Hypomania

Definition of Hypomania

Because hypomania is one of the distinguishing features of Cyclothymia, some elaboration of its definition is necessary to ensure you fully understand the meaning of the term. Hypomania is typically characterized by a heightened sense of optimism and well-being, accompanied by a decreased need for sleep. Often people with hypomania exhibit periods of intense productivity and an unusual clarity in their thinking. This is off-set by down-turns in which concentration fails and the person becomes withdrawn and apathetic. Although there is also a tendency to become hypersexual, unlike manic episodes, there is a marked absence of delusional thinking or hallucinations. Individuals who experience hypomania report feeling euphoric and generally do not associate the up-swing with negative consequences. Because of this, there is a tendency for people experiencing hypomania to resist treatment. Typically, treatment is not sought until there is a dysthymic episode.

Other Symptoms of Cyclothymia Include:

  • Periods of exhilaration followed by periods of dysthymia (mild depression).
  • Inability to maintain focus because of mood swings.
  • Major disruptions in relationships with family, friends, or loved ones.
  • Sudden changes in personality; e.g. surges of confidence followed by periods of ambivalence or listlessness or apparent fatigue.
  • Disruptions in sleeping patterns, demonstrated by either extreme restlessness or persistent insomnia.
  • Alcohol abuse or substance abuse.

Treatment for Cyclothymia

Like all mental health disorders, treatment should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual.  Because no two individuals are exactly alike, the manner in which their condition manifests will be unique to their personality, their medical history, and their genetic make-up. Baring this in mind, certain features of treatment is relatively consistent. The following list outlines some of the various therapies currently used to treat Cyclothymia.

  • Data suggests that regiments of physical exercise can assist with regulating moods and fostering emotional stability.
  • Employing various medications, which include ant-seizure medications such as Lamictal, and Depakote; and anti-psychotic medications such as Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Seroquel.

In conjunction with medications, psychotherapy is a vital component of treating Cyclothymia. The most commonly used therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on identifying negative beliefs and destructive patterns of thinking, and replacing them with healthy ones. The fundamental idea is that individuals unconsciously define themselves through faulty self-images and erroneous conclusions regarding their worth. The goal is to make the person aware of when and how they are undermining themselves or fulfilling a negative self-image that ultimately impairs them.
  • Group Therapy, which provides social support and education through shared experiences.
  • Social Rhythm Therapy (SRT), which focuses on assisting someone to create, and adhere to, a set schedule of work, play, and sleep. The central principle of SRT is that by keeping oneself on track with a set itinerary, they will be better equipped to deal with the volatility that accompanies mood swings when, and if, they recur.

Treatment Goals for People Exhibiting Signs of Cyclothymia

Treatment for Cyclothymia follows a similar course as treatment for Bipolar Disorder I and Bipolar Disorder II. Treatment goals include reducing the frequency of cycles, education about symptoms, maintaining medication regiments, growing awareness of what triggers bouts of hypomania, how to deal with the onset of dysthymic periods, managing the side-effects of medications, and how best to address cycling should it reoccur.

Again, it must be noted that no two situations are exactly alike, and thus no two treatment plans will follow exactly the same course. This discussion has only touched on the common denominators common to both Cyclothymia treatment and its symptoms. Take the time necessary to keep yourself informed about latest practices and current treatment options. Hopefully this article will assist giving you a foundation of knowledge that will make selecting the correct course of treatment easier to determine.

Call to Speak with the Authentic Recovery Center Today

The Authentic Recovery Center is a dual diagnosis drug rehab center located in Los Angeles, California. We specialize in offering treatment for Bipolar disorder, including Cyclothymia. If you would like to learn more about our program options call 1 877 415 4673 now.

We also have a national referral network to help you find local treatment and therapy options for Cyclothymia. You don’t have to enroll in our inpatient or outpatient programs in order to receive the support you need. Call us today if you or someone you know needs help beginning the road to recovery.

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