Cyclothymia is a form of bipolar disorder with milder symptoms. The low and high mood swings never reach the severity or duration of major depressive or manic episodes. Because of this, cyclothymia can be challenging to diagnose, and it can persist undetected and unaddressed for years.
What Is Hypomania?
Hypomania refers to the elevated mood that characterizes the “highs” of cyclothymia. While hypomania is less pronounced and easier to control than mania, it can still be disruptive, causing a euphoric sense of well-being. You may feel less need to sleep, be more active than usual, take unnecessary risks or believe you are smarter or better than the average person.
After a hypomanic episode, you might:
- Feel guilty or ashamed about your behavior
- Regret choices or commitments you made
- Have only a few clear memories of things you did and said
- Experience a “crash,” during which you need a lot of sleep
- Become briefly, mildly depressed
What Causes Cyclothymia?
As part of the spectrum of bipolar disorders, cyclothymia shares many characteristics with other mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, substance use disorder and clinical depression.
Mental health professionals have identified a combination of variables that lead to these illnesses:
- Adverse childhood experiences
- Environmental factors
- Changes in brain chemistry and biology due to injuries, aging or stress
Living With Cyclothymia
Cyclothymia may disrupt the lives of people with the disorder, with erratic moods making it hard for you to maintain relationship and career stability. Reckless or self-destructive behavior might have ramifications such as legal, financial and health problems.
Cyclothymia frequently co-occurs with addiction. Some people with this disorder try self-medicating their symptoms with drugs and alcohol, while others experiment with addictive substances during a hypomanic phase because they feel invincible. Cyclothymic disorder may also cause self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
Recovering From Cyclothymia
Untreated cyclothymia can evolve into full-blown bipolar disorder. Sometimes, co-occurring disorders like addiction, anxiety and PTSD can further complicate your diagnosis and make it harder to develop a successful treatment plan. However, don’t lose hope.
Keeping tabs on your mood swings, sleep patterns and daily behavior in a journal or a tracking app may help make the ups and downs of cyclothymia more predictable. Knowing when a hypomanic or depressive episode might be coming on can give you a better sense of control.
Other ways to treat and manage cyclothymia may include:
- Prescription medications like antidepressants or mood stabilizers
- Specific, evidence-based therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- Mood-boosting activities, including meditation, goal-setting and exercise
A New Life Starts Here
Many people become dependent on drugs and alcohol to control undiagnosed mental illnesses. These people often struggle with uncomfortable symptoms and a reduced quality of life due to their mental health. Psychiatric care can help address these problems and break the cycle of substance abuse.
At New Found Life, we have been serving our community since 1993. Contact us online to speak with a caring recovery counselor and begin the enrollment process today.