Cyclothymia: symptoms and treatment of cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymia (or cyclothymic disorder) belongs to the group of bipolar disorders. It is characterised by alternating hypomanic periods and periods of mild depression

During hypomanic periods the person presents a euphoric mood, excessive optimism, a feeling that everything is possible.

Thoughts follow one another rapidly, the person feels full of energy and activity increases, which may become disorganised and inconclusive.

In some cases, the hypomanic episode is characterised not by a euphoric mood, but a dysphoric one, i.e. characterised by irritability, intolerance, anger.

In cyclothymia, these periods are interspersed with periods of low mood

They do not represent a true depressive episode but in which the person feels a loss of interest or pleasure in his or her activities, feels sad and fatigued, the ability to concentrate is lost and feelings of devaluation and guilt may be present.

In cyclothymia, there is rarely an absence of symptoms of either type and sufferers have to deal with daily problems arising from their unpredictable mood swings and the resulting difficulty in making plans.

Cyclothymia is a disorder that often lasts for many years, starts early in life and is often considered a predisposition to other mood disorders.

Approximately 15-25% of cyclothymic patients end up developing a bipolar disorder

It should be borne in mind, however, that the diagnosis of cyclothymia is often wrongly made to justify the sudden and frequent mood swings that are very common symptoms of other psychological problems, particularly personality disorders.

Borderline patients in particular have frequent changes of state, in reaction to even trivial events, but often psychiatrists, in order to justify the need for drug therapy with mood stabilisers, misunderstand the personological diagnosis and medicalise symptoms that have an exquisitely psychological basis.

Scientific research has shown the importance of psychotherapy for better mood stability in cases of cyclothymia

Psychotherapy with a cognitive-behavioural orientation has proven to be particularly effective, helping people to quickly recognise the initial symptoms of cyclotimia and learn how to change dysfunctional thinking styles and deal with the related problems.

Psychotropic drugs are fairly easily prescribed for the treatment of cyclothymia, but it is usually possible and recommendable to do without them with a good psychotherapeutic intervention.

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