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There is no clear treatment of choice for this disorder. Either psychotherapy or medication can be tried first, or in conjunction with one another.
Treatment often takes the form of individual psychotherapy, although group treatment can also be helpful for this disorder. The specific content and techniques used to help treat the person who suffers from this disorder will vary widely. Some clinicians have found focusing on a psychoeducational approach of the disorder especially helpful. Since it tends to be more of a chronic condition, helping the client learn to better able to predict their mood swings and increase their level of coping skills becomes vital. Additional focus on the individual’s interpersonal relationships with others may be beneficial. Self-esteem and issues of self-worth and value often come up in therapy and might be helpful to discuss.
A trial of lithium carbonate is often tried, especially if the mood swings seem to be similar to those found in bipolar disorder. Prescription of such a medication though should be dependent upon a thorough clinical examination and history of the patient. Lithium can help reduce manic symptoms and the overall frequency of the cycling, but may also be ineffective in large minority of people who take it.
Self-help methods for the treatment of this disorder are often overlooked by the medical profession because very few professionals are involved in them. Many support groups exist within communities throughout the world which are devoted to helping individuals with this disorder share their commons experiences and feelings.
Patients can be encouraged to try out new coping skills and affect regulation with people they meet within support groups. They can be an important part of expanding the individual’s skill set and develop new, healthier social relationships.
Psych Central. (2013). Cyclothymic Disorder Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 7, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/cyclothymic-disorder-treatment/
Symptom criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 May 2013
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