What Is Cyclothymia?

Chrome 2001
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
. .
Harvard Medical School
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001

What Is Cyclothymia?

Learn The Basics
What Is Cyclothymia?
What Is Cyclothymia?
Cyclothymia, also called cyclothymic disorder, is a less intense version of bipolar disorder.
InteliHealth/Harvard Medical Content

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

What Is Cyclothymia?
Cyclothymia, also called cyclothymic disorder, is a mood disorder related to bipolar disorder. In the same way that dysthymia is a long-lasting but less intense version of major depression, cyclothymia is a less intense version of bipolar disorder. The highs and lows of cyclothymia are less extreme than the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, although they cause more trouble than the usual ups and downs of life.
This mood pattern can begin early in life (in the teens or 20s) and last indefinitely. It is equally common in both sexes, and it runs in families, which suggests that there is a genetic component.


In cyclothymia, symptoms of either hypomania or depression are present most of the time for at least two years.
Symptoms of hypomania include the following:
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • A decreased need for sleep
  • Rapid speech and thinking
  • Agitation or increased activity
  • Pleasure seeking, without regard to embarrassing or risky consequences
Symptoms of depression include the following:
  • Sadness
  • Pessimism
  • Guilt
  • Self-criticism
  • Poor concentration
  • Low energy
  • Changes in appetite and sleep
If symptoms of hypomania or depression become severe enough, the diagnosis may be changed to bipolar disorder or major depression. (As many as 25 percent to 50 percent of those with cyclothymia are later diagnosed with bipolar disorder).
If untreated, cyclothymia can lead to disturbed personal relationships, difficulties at work, and alcohol or drug abuse. Often these problems are regarded as the person's normal way of life. As a result, the underlying mood disorder is not detected.
Once a diagnosis is established, treatment can reduce the duration and intensity of symptoms. It can also reduce the risk of developing bipolar disorder or major depression.



bipolar disorder,depression,major depression,mood disorder
Last updated February 14, 2014

    Print Printer-friendly format    
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.