Cyclothymic Disorder

Symptoms | Causes | Diagnostic Criteria | Treatments

Cyclothymic disorder (aka Bipolar 3 Disorder), is a mood disorder in which an individual has mood swings over a period of time, significantly impacting one’s overall quality of life.

The essential feature of cyclothymic disorder is a chronic, fluctuating mood disturbance involving numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms that are distinct from each other, according to the DSM-5.

Cyclothymia disorder has been reported to occur at rates ranging from 0.4% to 1% in the general population, according to Cleveland Clinic.


Symptoms of Cyclothymic Disorder

According to, some common symptoms of cyclothymic disorder are periods (episodes) of extreme happiness and high activity or energy (hypomanic symptoms), or low mood, activity, or energy (depressive symptoms) for at least 2 years (1 or more years in children and adolescents).

  • Chronic, fluctuating mood disturbances
  • Experiencing periods of hypomania
  • Experiencing periods of depression

Causes of Cyclothymic Disorder

Temperamental, environmental, genetic & physiological factors are all likely to play key roles in the development of this mental illness. Individuals with a family history of this disorder may be at a higher risk for developing it themselves.

According to the DSM-5, there is a 15%-50% risk that an individual with cyclothymic disorder will subsequently develop bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. This condition usually begins in adolescence or early adult life and is sometimes considered to reflect a temperamental predisposition to other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, among others.


Diagnostic Criteria

To get diagnosed with this mood disorder, one must undergo a psychiatric evaluation by a licensed mental health professional. This will often entail asking the patient numerous questions to better understand their family history, current symptoms, as well as the severity of those symptoms.

Some of the specific diagnostic criteria, according to the DSM-5, are as follows:

  • For at least 2 years (at least 1 year in children and adolescents) there have been numerous periods with hypomanic symptoms that do not meet criteria for a hypomanic episode and numerous periods with depressive symptoms that do not meet criteria for a major depressive episode.
  • The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Treatments for Cyclothymic Disorder

There are no treatment methodologies that are made specifically for cyclothymic disorder. Nevertheless, mood-stabilizing medication (e.g. lithium), antidepressants, talk therapy, or some combination of these three treatment methods may significantly help someone suffering with this mood disorder.

If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.


  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

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