Cyclothymia, Sudden Mood Swings – Explained 2023

Cyclothymia is a mood disorder characterized by recurring periods of hypomania (elevated mood) and mild depression. It is considered a milder form of bipolar disorder.

Having mood swings is normal because although we can keep our mood stable, social, work, and even hormonal factors, in the case of women, can cause mood swings that make us go from joy to tears. soon. However, after a short period of time, we will recover the mental balance we had before the event. However, there are people who suffer changes in mood constantly and abruptly, going from euphoria to depression in a short period of time, although without suffering from major depression or bipolar disorder. These people have cyclothymia, a chronic mood disorder with variations of hypomanic and mild depressive episodes.

In this Psychologyorg article, we explain in detail what cyclothymia is, what causes sudden mood swings, as well as its symptoms and treatment.

What is cyclothymia

Cyclothymia is a mood disorder characterized by the presence of recurrent mood swings and emotional fluctuations, but less intense and lasting than those manifested in bipolar disorders. People with cyclothymic disorder experience mood states that range from hypomania to mild to moderate depression.

These changes can occur in short intervals of time, sometimes even on the same day, and can last several days or weeks. Although cyclothymic disorder can affect a person’s daily life, it is generally not as harmful or affects the ability to perform daily activities as much as bipolar disorder.

However, in the presence of symptoms of cyclothymic disorder, it is important to see a mental health professional, because, if not treated properly, this disorder could evolve into a bipolar disorder.


Causes of cyclothymia

As with other mental health disorders, the causes of cyclothymia are unknown. However, specialists point to certain factors as predisposing to developing this disorder or that increase the chances of suffering from it. We will show you below:

  • Genetic factors: It has been observed that people who have a family history of cyclothymia, major depression, or bipolar disorder have a higher risk of suffering from it.
  • Environmental factors: there are certain life events that can influence the development of cyclothymia, among them, we find traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse.
  • Biochemical processes in the body: changes in brain chemistry.
  • Go through prolonged periods of stress.

Cyclothymia symptoms

Now that we know what causes sudden mood swings, let’s see the symptoms of cyclothymia. Based on what is established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), for a person to be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder, they must present the following:

  • Periods with hypomanic symptoms (elevated mood) and periods of mild or moderate depressive symptoms for at least one year in children and adolescents and two years in adults.
  • Both hypomanic and depressive symptoms must be present at least half of the time of those two years without more than two consecutive months passing without presenting these signs.
  • There are no signs or symptoms consistent with major depression or single-episode hypomania.
  • Other mental disorders have been ruled out as the cause of these symptoms, such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or schizoaffective disorder.
  • The manifestation of the symptoms of the cyclic disorder is not due to the consumption of drugs or other substances or to different types of medical conditions.
  • The symptoms of cyclothymic disorder negatively influence the social, work, and personal environment of the affected person.

Hypomanic symptoms

Hypomanic episodes are characterized by presenting a state of euphoria and exaltation, in addition to symptoms such as the following:

  • Presence of a lot of energy and a significant increase in activity.
  • Reduced need for sleep and sleep disturbances.
  • Great predisposition to carry out activities and have social relationships.
  • Talk more than normal.
  • Increased or inflated self-esteem.
  • Exacerbated optimism and exaggerated feelings of well-being and happiness.
  • psychomotor agitation.
  • Difficulty concentrating and easily distracted.
  • hyperactivity
  • Exaggerated reactions to the occurrence of events.
  • The constant search for strong emotions.
  • Greater impulsiveness.
  • Greater irresponsibility.

Depressive symptoms

In cyclothymic disorder, depressive episodes are characterized by depressed mood or mood, along with symptoms such as:

  • Lack of energy and reduced activity.
  • Sleep problems, such as insomnia.
  • Isolation and decreased social relationships.
  • Loss of interest in functioning different daily actions.
  • Appetite reduction.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Negative thoughts about yourself and the people around you.
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • Continuous desire to cry for no reason.
  • Irritability.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Loneliness.

Treatment of cyclothymia

To treat cyclothymia, specialists recommend the combination of pharmacological treatment with psychotherapy:

  • Medications: Drugs used in the treatment of bipolar disorder are often prescribed to relieve symptoms and prevent them from recurring frequently. Antipsychotics and anticonvulsants, such as lithium and quetiapine, may be recommended. In this case, antidepressants have not been shown to be effective in treating cyclothymic disorder successfully.
  • Psychotherapy: various psychological therapies can be carried out. Those that offer the best results are cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and rational emotive therapy.

In addition to medical treatment, as in any other type of ailment, the support and understanding of the family and the environment are necessary so that the affected person can overcome it.

Goals of Cyclothymia Treatment

The treatment of cyclothymic disorder has the following main objectives:

  • Reduce the risk of it developing into bipolar I or II disorder later.
  • Reduce symptoms in order to enjoy a better quality of life.
  • Prevent symptoms from recurring.
  • Treat possible problems with alcoholism or drug use, since these worsen the symptoms of cyclothymia.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cyclothymia, sudden mood swings – Explained 2023, we recommend that you enter our category of MENTAL DISORDERS.



Q: What is cyclothymia?

A: Cyclothymia is a mood disorder characterized by recurring periods of hypomania (elevated mood) and mild depression. It is considered a milder form of bipolar disorder.

Q: What are mood swings?

A: Mood swings refer to abrupt and noticeable changes in a person’s emotional state or mood. They can range from feeling happy and energetic to feeling sad, irritable, or hopeless.

Q: Are mood swings a common symptom of cyclothymia?

A: Yes, mood swings are a hallmark symptom of cyclothymic disorder. People with this condition experience frequent and unpredictable shifts in their mood, often without a clear trigger.

Q: How frequent are the mood swings in cyclothymia?

A: In cyclothymic disorder, mood swings can occur multiple times a week or even within a single day. The duration of each mood episode may vary, ranging from a few days to a few weeks.

Q: What is the difference between cyclothymia and bipolar disorder?

A: cyclothymic disorder and bipolar disorder share similarities, but they differ in terms of the severity and duration of mood episodes. cyclic disorder involves milder mood swings, while bipolar disorder involves more extreme mood swings that can significantly disrupt daily life.

Q: What are the symptoms of cyclothymia?

A: The symptoms of the cyclothymic disorder include alternating periods of hypomania (elevated mood, increased energy) and mild depression (low mood, loss of interest). Other symptoms may include irritability, impulsivity, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating.

Q: Can cyclothymia lead to full-blown bipolar disorder?

A: It is possible for cyclothymia to progress into bipolar disorder, although it doesn’t happen in every case. Some individuals with cyclothymic disorder may eventually experience more severe mood swings and develop bipolar I or II disorder.

Q: What causes cyclothymia?

A: The exact cause of the cyclothymic disorder is unknown, but it is believed to be influenced by a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Imbalances in brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, may also play a role.

Q: How is cyclothymia diagnosed?

A: Cyclothymia is diagnosed based on a thorough evaluation of a person’s symptoms, medical history, and family history. A mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, will assess the frequency, duration, and impact of mood swings to make a diagnosis.

Q: What are the treatment options for cyclothymia?

A: Treatment for cyclothymic disorder often involves a combination of medication, such as mood stabilizers or antidepressants, and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be helpful in managing mood swings and developing coping strategies.

Q: Can lifestyle changes help manage cyclothymia and sudden mood swings?

A: Yes, certain lifestyle changes can complement treatment for cyclothymic disorder. Regular exercise, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, minimizing stress, and seeking support from loved ones can contribute to mood stability.

Q: Can cyclothymia be cured?

A: cyclothymic disorder is a chronic condition, and currently, there is no known cure. However, with proper treatment and management, individuals with the cyclic disorder can lead fulfilling lives and effectively manage their mood swings.

Read Also: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Symptoms and Causes

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