Are you suffering from cyclothymia? The worrying mental health condition you need to know

IT’S normal for your mood to change throughout the day in response to events happening around you.

But if you experience frequent changes in your mood that happen for no apparent reason, you may have cyclothymic disorder.

Most people's symptoms are mild enough that they do not seek mental health treatment


Most people’s symptoms are mild enough that they do not seek mental health treatmentCredit: Getty

For example, you could wake up feeling ecstatically happy – then hours later crash and feel terribly sad despite nothing happening to upset you.

According to the NHS, most people’s symptoms are mild enough that they do not seek mental health treatment.

And others enjoy the highs so don’t realise anything is wrong.

This means cyclothymia often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

But it’s important to get a diagnosis as the condition can have a profound impact on suffers personal and work lives.

While there are no official numbers for cyclothymia, it is thought that five per cent of the UK population is on the bipolar spectrum, according to Bipolar UK.

Cyclothymia is a mood disorder that forms part of the bipolar spectrum of disorders – and is often referred to as ‘mild bipolar’.

But charities are trying to move away from the term ‘mild’ as a description for the condition, as they believe it can suggest the illness is not serious – which is can be.

What are the symptoms?

If you have cyclothymia you will have periods of feeling very low followed by periods of extreme happiness and excitement – sometimes called hypomania, the NHS website explains.

When in a hypomanic state you will not need to sleep much and will feel like you have a lot of energy.

The periods of low mood will not be considered severe enough to be classified as depression.

But during these times, you may feel sluggish and lose interest in things during these periods.

Those with the condition will go no longer that two months without a mood swing.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that mainly affects your mood.

Cyclothymia is a type of bipolar disorder, but is considered less severe than some other forms of the condition.

If you have bipolar I or II disorder, your moods typically shift less often than they do with cyclothymia. 

Symptoms of bipolar I or II are also extreme – the low periods would fall under depression and the highs mania.

Unlike cyclothymia, bipolar often requires temporary inpatient treatment to manage symptoms.

In some cases, symptoms of bipolar can be life-threatening — without treatment. 

What are the causes?

The causes of cyclothymia are unknown, but there’s probably a genetic link because cyclothymia, depression and bipolar disorder all tend to run in families.

In some cases, traumatic experiences like severe illness or stress, may act as a trigger for the condition.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for the condition but there are a range of treatments that can help manage cyclothymia.

Treatment usually involves medicine and some kind of talking therapy.

The aim of all cyclothymia treatment is not only help reduce the symptoms but also to stop the cyclothymia developing into bipolar I or II disorder.

People with the condition probably need to continue this treatment for the rest of your life.

Sometimes therapy is combined with medicines to help level out your mood like lithium, or antidepressants.

Where to get help

If you think you could have cyclothymia, speak to your GP or local mental health service for further help.

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