Cyclothymia And Therapy

It is estimated that 1% of the population has cyclothymia, but the true number counting undiagnosed or misdiagnosed people may actually be higher. This milder form of bipolar disorder can cause havoc and mental suffering for the people who have it (and for those persons who are close to them). There are three forms of psychotherapy that are used to help clients cope with this condition and live a more fulfilling life.


While many therapists use an eclectic approach for most problems, treatment for cyclothymia will probably involve elements of CBT, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

CBT is the parent therapy of many modern therapeutic approaches and it is a hybrid of two separate approaches: cognitive and behavioral. It is based on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how the cycle of these three things reinforce each other.

When you participate in CBT, you will be encouraged to examine your thoughts and develop better thinking patterns/ beliefs to help develop better feelings about your life and events. This in turn results in more adaptive behaviors. The positive consequences for appropriate behaviors in turn prompt more positive thoughts and feelings.


IPSRT involves using worksheets to track moods, and the events that might precipitate a high or low jump in mood. This helps you and your therapist to identify triggers and to develop strategies to help you more effectively cope with them, along with the resulting moods.  

As a part of the process, you would be encouraged to identify a particular interpersonal problem to work on during the course of therapy. Learning to overcome one particular problem can simplify the process and also help you develop the tools to work on other challenges.


Dialectical behavior therapy may also be used solely or in combination with other therapies. While DBT is a form of therapy that was specifically developed to help patients with borderline personality disorder, it has also proved be useful to people with mood disorders.

This therapy focuses on the social aspects of your life and your reactions to social events. Borderline persons often engage in black and white thinking that often originates from growing up in a chaotic home environment. This atmosphere can result in a person experiencing extreme and lightning-quick mood swings and behaviors. People with cyclothymia can have a similar problem, but for primarily genetic and biochemical reasons.  

Other Considerations

Substance abuse is common for people with mood disorders, because there is a tendency to self-medicate. If this is true of you, you will also need to get specific treatment for this.

If you believe you might have cyclothymia, you should see a psychiatrist who can offer therapy and prescribe medications to help. Getting the right balance with medications to effectively treat your condition is a tricky business that requires specialized knowledge. Another thing you will be encouraged to do is to develop a regular routine in your daily life to help stabilize your moods. If you're looking for a psychiatrist in your area, visit Comprehensive Behavioral Health Associates Inc.