Cyclothymia is a mood disorder in which the client displays the characteristic ups and downs (depressions and euphorias) of Bipolar Disorder, to a much lower extent, to the point of not qualifying for a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. These symptoms must last for a period of at least two years, with no period longer than 2 months in which they have been at a normal state, and no mixed episodes may have occurred.
After the two-year period, if the client begins to display full depressive or manic symptoms, then a diagnosis of either Depression and Cyclothymia can be given or a diagnosis of either Bipolar I or Bipolar II and Cyclothymia can be given.
The age of onset of Cyclothymia is generally in early adulthood, and is gradual, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time of onset. The alternating ups and downs may fluctuate in hours, weeks or months. Times of normal emotions may last for up to 2 months. These clients are not as disabled as those suffering from bipolar disorder, and can generally act in social and work situations, although not at full capacity.
Treatment for Cyclothymia consists of the use of anti-epileptics such as lithium, depakote, tegretol, neurontin, and lamactil to name a few. Anti-psychotics are generally not utilized. Anti-depressants are also generally not utilized as they have the potential to make a person manic, and the depression does not last long enough for them to take effect.
Psychotherapy is used to help the person understand their disease process, to give them insight into their disease, and to come up with new coping mechanisms. Additionally, it assists them in dealing with daily activities such as social and workplace functioning.