Your emotional ups and downs may be symptoms of a mood disorder called cyclothymia. Similar to bipolar disorder, cyclothymia is less intense, although it still can cause you to swing from one extreme to another. Treating cyclothymia involves innovative therapies that can help you address the symptoms you may be experiencing. Cyclothymia and drug abuse are closely associated as well.
A Mild Mood Disorder
The manic highs and depressive lows that are often associated with bipolar disorder can also be seen in someone diagnosed with cyclothymia. The difference is that cyclothymic disorder is considered to be a mild mood disorder, with less extreme mood swings. In between the low-level depressive symptoms and periods of mild mania, if you have been diagnosed with cyclothymia you may feel like your mood has actually stabilized.
Researchers have found that the mood changes in cyclothymia can be a reaction to different environmental stimuli. For example, someone exposed to or experiencing a positive event would react by quickly becoming extremely enthusiastic, joyful, and active. They might even appear to be excessively euphoric and impulsive. On the other hand, the individual would react to a negative event, whether real or perceived, with unusual sadness, extreme fatigue, desperation, anguish, and even suicidal thoughts.
Cyclothymia and Drug Abuse
These researchers have also found that individuals with cyclothymia could be predisposed to drug abuse and addiction as a result of a mix of impulsivity, sensation seeking, and high sensitivity to substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol, as well as hypnotics and sedatives.
In fact, it’s been found that people with cyclothymic disorder are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Almost half of individuals diagnosed with the disorder may also have a problem with substance abuse. To complicate the situation, alcohol and drug use may increase the symptoms of the disorder. When you are diagnosed with cyclothymia and a substance use disorder, it is important that both conditions are treated together.
You will require lifelong treatment for a diagnosis of cyclothymia. You may experience periods of time where you feel better, those moments in between the emotional highs and lows, but you will still need to continue treating your condition to control the symptoms. A professional mental health provider and substance abuse counselor can guide you through the treatment, working with you to:
- Reduce the severity and the frequency of your symptoms so you can live a more enjoyable and balanced life.
- Prevent symptom relapses during periods of remission.
- Decrease your risk of developing bipolar disorder, with more intense mood swings.
- Treat your substance use problems, including your addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Psychotherapy and Medications for Treating Cyclothymia
The main treatments for cyclothymia are medications and psychotherapy. While no medications are specifically approved for the treatment of cyclothymia, there are some that can be used effectively, when managed by a professional provider:
- Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines
- Mood stabilizers such as lithium
- Anti-seizure medications (also known as anticonvulsants) include divalproex sodium (depakote), lamotrigine (lamictal), and valproic acid (depakene)
- Atypical antipsychotic medications such as olanzapine (zyprexa), quetiapine (seroquel) and risperidone (risperdal)
Antidepressants should only be used in conjunction with a mood stabilizer as they may cause potentially harmful manic episodes when taken on their own.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavior therapy and well-being therapy, is a vital part of treating cyclothymia. Cognitive behavior therapy will help you focus on identifying the negative or unhealthy beliefs and behaviors you may be experiencing as you learn how to replace them with more positive beliefs and behaviors. This type of therapy can also help you manage your stress and develop healthier coping techniques.
Well-being therapy focuses on improving your overall quality of life. One recent clinical study found that participating in a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and well-being therapy can bring significant improvements to the lives of individuals who have been diagnosed with cyclothymia. Talk therapy, family therapy, and group therapy are also helpful in treating cyclothymia.
Contact Recovery Without Walls for Help with Cyclothymia and Drug Abuse
At Recovery Without Walls, we offer you a holistic approach to your mental health and substance use disorders. We work with you to renew your spirit, shift your perspective, and change your life. We personalize your treatment based on evidence-informed research, exceptional psychotherapy, nutritional support, and integrative healing methods designed to treat your whole body. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.