Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a relatively mild form of bipolar II disorder characterized by mood swings that may appear to be almost within the normal range of emotions. These mood swings range from mild depression, or dysthymia, to mania of low intensity, or hypomania. It is possible for cyclothymia to go undiagnosed, and for individuals with the disorder to be unaware that they have a treatable disease. Individuals with cyclothymia may experience episodes of low-level depression, known as dysthymia; periods of intense energy, creativity, and/or irritability, known as hypomania; or they may alternate between both mood states. Like other bipolar disorders, cyclothymia is a chronic illness characterized by mood swings that can occur as often as every day and last for several days, weeks, months, or as long as two years. Individuals with this disorder are never free of symptoms of either hypomania or mild depression for more than two months at a time (Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders). The German psychiatrist Ewald Hecker introduced the concept of cyclothymia in 1877, but its definition has evolved from a mild problem with mood to its current status, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), as a mood disorder alongside bipolar disorder and major depression. Cyclothymic disorder also appears in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), published by the World Health Organization. Those who have this disorder usually fail to recognize it as well as doctors who treat them due to the fine line between pathological and normal mood swings (Colino, 2005). Cyclothymic Disorder often begins early in life and is sometimes considered to reflect a temperamental predisposition to other Mood Disorders (especially Bipolar Disorders). In community samples, Cyclothymic Disorder is apparently equally common in men and in women. In clinical settings, women with Cyclothymic Disorder may be more...
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Colino, S. A Sudden Shift in Moods. With Cyclothymia, a Milder Form Of Bipolar Disorder, Life 's Little Ups and Downs Can Loom Large. Washington Post, December 20, 2005. http://www.biopsychiatry.com/misc/cyclothymia.html. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
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