Key Differences Between Dysthymia and Cyclothymia
Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, have received enough media attention over the past several decades to render them fairly well-known to the general public. But subaffective disorders, like dysthymia and cyclothymia, are not as well-known.
Subaffective disorders are a class of mental illnesses that affect mood, but are less severe than major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. The suffix “thymia” refers to mood, and the prefix “dys” means painful. “Cyclo” refers to changes or cycles. Dysthymia is a less severe form of depression, and cyclothymia is a less severe form of bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Dysthymia
Persistent feelings of sadness that last most of the day, most days, for a prolonged period of time. This sad mood must not be a response to life circumstances, grief or a medical condition.
Impact on appetite
This may be an increase or decrease, with resulting weight gain or loss.
Impact on sleep
Dysthymia typically causes either insomnia or excessive sleep.
Impact on cognitive abilities
Dysthymia also tends to cause difficulties with thinking. Confusion, trouble concentrating, trouble making decisions, and mental tiredness are all reported as part of this disorder.
Negative feelings of self-worth or low self-esteem
Not only do people with dysthymia feel sad, but they typically report feeling bad about themselves as well. Feelings of guilt or shame are commonly reported.
Symptoms of Cyclothymia
In addition to the low mood symptoms of dysthymia, people suffering from cyclothymia also experience hypomanic moods. One important criteria for diagnosing cyclothymia is that normal mood states that occur in between hypomanic and depressed moods last a maximum of two months. These hypomanic moods states are characterized by:
Having lots of energy and a decreased need for sleep
This is different from insomnia, where you want to sleep but can’t. In a hypomanic episode, you feel like you don’t need to sleep.
In a full-blown manic episode, you may experience pressured speech, which is a more extreme form of being verbally overproductive. In a hypomanic episode, you just tend to talk a lot more than you would under normal circumstances.
For some people suffering from cyclothymia, hypomanic episodes include feeling thin-skinned. Everything and everyone is annoying.
Both dysthymia and cyclothymia respond well to treatment. Medications can help, and a number of psychotherapeutic techniques can ease the discomfort of these moods. Seek treatment and be hopeful–a positive attitude is an excellent first step.
Mood Disorders – WebMD
Dysthymia and Cyclothymia: Historical Origins and Contemporary Development – Journal of Affective Disorders
Cyclothymic Disorder – PsychNet UK
Dysthymia and Cyclothymia: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment – Study.com
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