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Difference Between Cyclothymia and Bipolar Disorder

stethoscopeCyclothymia vs  Bipolar Disorder

It is very difficult for an ordinary person to distinguish between Cyclothymia and a bipolar disorder.  Let’s take a look at what they are:

Cyclothymia is often considered to be the first stage of a full blown bipolar disorder. The symptoms of the disorder may result in the therapist putting the patient on a watch.


1. Patients suffering from Cyclothymia typically display two sets of symptoms. When they are in a dysthymic phase, they have poor memory functions, low esteem and a general difficulty in making decisions. They are prone to sadness and self destructive thinking patterns and may suffer general hopelessness.

This is in sharp contrast when they are in a euphoric mood. These moods are typically displayed as aggressive and agitated mood swings, increased physical activity and a reduced need for sleep.

2. The symptoms for a bipolar disorder are more pronounced in patients and occur for a longer period of time. Typically, it is estimated to be a bipolar disorder if the patient continues to show these symptoms or if these episodes worsen over a period of 2 years.


1. Cyclothymia is mainly a genetic disease, aggravated by environmental factors. It occurs more in women than in men and is increased by feelings of hopelessness as when triggered by a job loss etc.

2. A bipolar disorder is also genetic in nature. The only difference is that patients with this gene are more prone to the condition, even when the impact of environmental factors is lessened. What is interesting is that patients may display signs of this developing disorder even as a child.

Children who show mood swings or major depressive episodes in childhood are more likely to develop a bipolar disorder later on.


1. For a patient of a bipolar disorder, the doctor may prescribe mood stabilizers like lithium carbonate. The patient may also be hospitalized if the manic swings get too violent. The doctor may also prescribe anti psychotic drugs. Some doctors even put the patients on antidepressants. However, this approach has been questioned by some.

2. Patients of Cyclothymia may be directed on self help or on exercises that control the mood or provide emotional stability. Alternatively, he may also be put on medication.


· Cyclothymia is usually considered to be a type of bipolar disorder, albeit on a lesser scale.

· The reasons for Cyclothymia may be genetic, but with predominantly environmental roots. A bipolar disorder is mainly genetic and is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain

· The symptoms for the two conditions are similar. However, in the case of a bipolar disorder, they are more long standing.

· Treatment for Cyclothymia will mainly rely on self help or mild medications. However, a patient with bipolar disorder is usually put on stronger medications or even hospitalized.

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