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Cyclothymic disorder and Bipolar disorder are very similar in several ways.
However, a list of characteristics differentiate them from each other:
The people suffering from cyclothymia have periods of depression, hypomania or mania that last from 1-3 months.
They also have periods in which the symptoms are not present. It does not have the regular patterns of the mood changes that bipolar disorder has.
They have regular patterns of mood changes. They have longer duration of symptoms.
The mood changes usually last for more than two weeks. These mood swings are also not limited to depression or mania. In between these mood swings, they can also remain stable.
For an accurate diagnosis, you must consult a psychiatrist who can tell the difference between the two disorders.
There is not much of a difference in the treatment of the two disorders.
Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) is classically characterized as multiple periods of hypomania (natural high) and depression lasting 2 years or more.
These periods of depression and hypomania may be interspersed with relatively symptom free periods, but the overall course is one in which symptomatic days outnumber symptom free days; hence, the term cyclothymic.
It is common for people with Cyclothymic Disorder to self-medicate with alcohol or substance abuse; however, there is no evidence that substance abuse causes Cyclothymic Disorder in this population.