Cyclothymia symptoms alternate between emotional highs and lows. The highs of cyclothymia include symptoms of an elevated mood (hypomanic symptoms). The lows consist of mild or moderate depressive symptoms.

Cyclothymia symptoms are similar to those of bipolar I or II disorder, but they're less severe. When you have cyclothymia, you can typically function in your daily life, though not always well. The unpredictable nature of your mood shifts may significantly disrupt your life because you never know how you're going to feel.

Hypomanic symptoms

Signs and symptoms of the highs of cyclothymia may include:

  • An exaggerated feeling of happiness or well-being (euphoria)
  • Extreme optimism
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Talking more than usual
  • Poor judgment that can result in risky behavior or unwise choices
  • Racing thoughts
  • Irritable or agitated behavior
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals (sexual, work related or social)
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Tendency to be easily distracted
  • Inability to concentrate

Depressive symptoms

Signs and symptoms of the lows of cyclothymia may include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or empty
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability, especially in children and teenagers
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Changes in weight
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue or feeling slowed down
  • Problems concentrating
  • Thinking of death or suicide

When to see a doctor

If you have any symptoms of cyclothymia, seek medical help as soon as possible. Cyclothymia generally doesn't get better on its own. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, work up the courage to confide in someone who can help you take that first step.

If a loved one has symptoms of cyclothymia, talk openly and honestly with that person about your concerns. You can't force someone to seek professional help, but you can offer support and help find a qualified doctor or mental health provider.

Suicidal thoughts

Although suicidal thoughts might occur with cyclothymia, they're more likely to occur if you have bipolar I or II disorder. If you're considering suicide right now:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency services number, or go to a hospital emergency department.
  • Call a local crisis center or suicide hotline number — in the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

If you just can't make that call, reach out to someone else — immediately — such as your doctor, mental health provider, family member, friend or someone in your faith community.

June 04, 2015