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    Cyclothymic disorder

    Cyclothymia

    Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) in which a person has mood swings over a period of years that go from mild depression to emotional highs.

    Causes

    The causes of cyclothymic disorder are unknown. Major depression, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymia often occur together in families. This suggests that these mood disorders share similar causes.

    Cyclothymia usually begins early in life. It appears to be equally common in men and women.

    Symptoms

    • Episodes of hypomania (see: Bipolar disorder) and mild depression occur for at least 2 years (1 or more years in children and adolescents)
    • Mood swings are less severe than in bipolar disorder ormajor depression
    • Symptoms are persistent, with no more than 2 symptom-free months in a row

    Exams and Tests

    The diagnosis is usually based on yourmood history. Your health care providers may order blood and urine tests to rule out medical causes of mood swings.

    Treatment

    Mood stabilizing medication, antidepressants, talk therapy, or some combination of these three therapies may be used to treat cyclothymic disorder.

    Some of the more commonly used mood stabilizers are:

    • Lithium. Lithium has been used for years in patients with bipolar disorder, and it may also help patients with cyclothymic disorder.
    • Antiseizure drugs. Valproic acid (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), and lamotrigine (Lamictal) are the most established mood stabilizing antiseizure drugs.

    Some peoplewith cyclothymia may not respond to medications aswell as patients with bipolar disorder.

    Support Groups

    As with other illnesses, you can ease the stress of living with cyclothymia by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Less than half of people with cyclothymic disorder will eventually develop bipolar disorder. In other people, cyclothymia will continue as a chronic condition or disappear with time.

    Possible Complications

    The condition can progress to bipolar disorder.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call a mental health professional if you or a loved one has persistent alternating periods of depression and excitement that negatively affect work, school, or social life. Seek immediate help if you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide.

    References

    McClellan J, Kowatch R, Findling RL; Work Group on Quality Issues. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007;46:107-125.

    Tress AV, Smetana GW. Medical evaluation of patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:1437-1444.

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                Review Date: 9/19/2012

                Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc. David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY.

                The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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