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What is the Difference Between Cyclothymic Disorder and Bipolar Disorder?

woman with head in hands considers cyclothymic disorder vs bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. It is a serious condition that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. While bipolar disorder is a well-known and widely studied mental health condition, there are other disorders that share similar symptoms and can often be confused with bipolar disorder. One of these disorders is cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder vs. bipolar disorder, while they may have some similarities, are two distinct disorders that require different treatment approaches.

If you or a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder, it’s time to reclaim your story. Honey Lake Clinic’s bipolar disorder treatment program in Florida offers comprehensive and personalized care to help our patients manage their symptoms, improve their overall functioning, and live a fulfilling life.

Call 888.428.0562 today to get started.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder, and while each type has a somewhat different set of symptoms, all of them are characterized by noticeable changes in mood—ranging from periods of extremely up, elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, down, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes)—energy, thinking, concentration, and behavior.

Here’s a breakdown of the four different types:

  • Bipolar I disorder – This type is diagnosed when manic episodes last at least seven days and are accompanied by psychotic features, or the manic symptoms are severe enough to require immediate hospitalization to prevent harm to oneself or others. Depressive episodes, typically lasting at least two weeks, also often occur. A person may have manic episodes with some depressive features or depressive episodes with some manic features.
  • Bipolar II disorder – This type of the disorder is diagnosed when a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes is present, but the full-blown manic episodes of bipolar I do not occur. Hypomanic episodes have the same symptoms as manic episodes but are shorter in duration and less severe. Bipolar II disorder is more likely to be mistakenly diagnosed as depression.
  • Cyclothymia – Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that’s sometimes referred to as cyclothymic disorder. Both cyclothymia and bipolar disorder are characterized by extreme mood swings, from the highs of mania to the lows of depression, with short periods of neutral time in between. The difference lies in the intensity: people with bipolar disorder will experience clinically diagnosed mania and usually major depression, while people with cyclothymia have low-grade depression and mild symptoms of hypomania.

Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders – When someone has bipolar disorder symptoms that do not exactly match the categories listed above, they may receive a diagnosis of “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek professional help to receive an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. This is where the distinction between cyclothymic disorder vs. bipolar disorder becomes crucial.

Cyclothymic Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder: Understanding the Differences

Only a doctor can accurately make the clinical distinction between cyclothymia and bipolar disorder. Generally speaking, the symptoms of major bipolar depression are debilitating and can include an inability to get out of bed, feeling overwhelmed or unable to make even the simplest decisions, and having obsessive thoughts, especially about loss, personal failure, or guilt. These symptoms, which can be long-lasting, affect your ability to function and can dramatically reduce your quality of life.

The same kinds of symptoms may be present in cyclothymic depression, and while they can have a significant impact on your everyday life, they’re less severe in degree. Cyclothymic symptoms may last no more than two weeks and may cause less of a disruption in your daily routine.

While some people living with cyclothymia go without treatment, it is important to recognize and monitor the condition. People with cyclothymic disorder are at increased risk of developing full-blown bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Cyclothymia: What to Look For

Besides cycling between the two mood extremes, there are other criteria that will determine a diagnosis of cyclothymia:

  • You’ve experienced these mood swings for at least two years
  • At least once in the two-year period, you have had significant distress or social impairment
  • Your symptom-free intervals last no more than two months
  • Your symptoms don’t meet the requirements of any other bipolar disorder

As with bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder, there’s no cure for cyclothymia, but it’s possible to manage the condition with effective treatment.

Reach Out to Honey Lake Clinic Today

Cyclothymic disorder can be a confusing and discouraging challenge for the individual facing it and the people who love them. If you think you or someone you love may be struggling with cyclothymia, we want to help.

At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatric specialists understand that effective treatment for cyclothymic disorder requires a multifaceted, faith-based approach involving healing of the mind, body, and spirit. Our team at Honey Lake Clinic can guide you to an accurate diagnosis and start you on the path to health. Let us offer hope and provide answers.

Your healthier, happier, and more hopeful future can start today with a simple phone call. Don’t wait. To learn more or get started today, call Honey Lake Clinic at 888.428.0562 or reach out online.