Cyclothymia Symptoms and Self-Diagnosis

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Reader’s Question

I was looking up various things, such as bipolar, schizophrenia, narcissism and various others out of curiosity, and came across cyclothymia and realised it’s the exact description of how I behave and think. Could you give me some advice? What should I do? I don’t feel that bad; I thought this is how everyone was…

Psychologist’s Reply

First, try not to make a diagnosis of yourself based on information you’ve gleaned from the internet. Although you may display many traits common in this or that disorder, that doesn’t mean that you have that disorder.

If you want to rule out a mood disorder such as cyclothymia, you can take some concrete steps. These steps are in preparation for you to present to your doctor, who will interpret them.

Ask if there is a family medical history of mental health issues. If so, summarize the medical history. Things to include: the person’s relationship to you, the diagnosis, any treatment that you’re aware of that worked or didn’t work (including specific prescriptions), and such details. Next, chart your moods on your wall calendar. Make “+” sign for days or hours where you felt elated or unrealistically upbeat. Make a “0” when your mood matches the situation you are in, and a “-” when you feel down or depressed for no discernable reason. After a while, you may be able to chart your mood and notice a cycle. With cyclothymia, cycles can be very rapid, sometimes changing in hours, and the moods needn’t be extremely pronounced.

This disorder is sometimes observed in the early onset of a more severe mood disorder, so it is worth watching. If the doctor makes a diagnosis, then pat yourself on the back for your early intervention. The best prognosis in that case would be aggressive, persistent treatment. And if it turns out that you do not have the disorder, then congratulations again. You dodged a bullet and learned something about yourself in the process.

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