Difference Between Cyclothymia and Dysthymia

Main Difference – Cyclothymia vs Dysthymia

Cyclothymia and Dysthymia are two mild versions of mood disorders which share many similar features, making it hard to identify a line of demarcation which separates the two terms. However, it is very important to identify the individual characteristic features since both these conditions often go undiagnosed due their less severe symptoms. The main difference between Cyclothymia and Dysthymia is that Cyclothymia is characterized by alternating episodes of both elevated moods or euphoria and depression whereas Dysthymia is only characterized by phases of mild depression.

This article describes,

1. What is Cyclothymia – Signs and Symptoms, Cause, Diagnosis, Treatment Methods

2. What is Dysthymia – Signs and Symptoms, Cause, Diagnosis, Treatment Methods

3. What is the Difference Between Cyclothymia and Dysthymia

Difference Between Cyclothymia and Dysthymia - Cyclothymia vs Dysthymia Comparison Summary

What is Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia a chronic, yet less severe type of bipolar disorder which comprises of short durations of mild depression associated with similar durations of hypomania. The onset of these episodes is characterized by contrasting periods of normal mood and behavior. However, the symptoms of depression and hypomania will be milder than those experienced by a patient diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Even though the exact etiology of this condition is not clear, genetics, a positive family history, and adolescent age group are known to be at a high risk; both male and female genders are equally affected.

For the patient to be diagnosed with Cyclothymia, he should have experienced a brief and recurrent episodes of depression and hypomania which characteristically last for at least 2 years, associated with less than 2 consecutive symptom-free periods in a single episode.

People with mild symptoms of the condition may not require any treatment since the normal lifestyle is not disrupted in most cases. Severely affected individuals can be treated with a combination of psychotherapy and mood stabilizers.

Difference Between Cyclothymia and Dysthymia

What is Dysthymia

Also known as Dysthymic disorder, Dysthymia is a type of less severe depressive mood disorder which is characterized by a lack of pleasure or energy in life. A single episode of this disorder usually continues for at least two years or even more, which is why it may also be misdiagnosed as severe chronic depression.

With a significant female predominance, Dysthymia is found to be common among individuals with a positive family history. Other causative factors may include genetics, abnormal brain functioning which involves emotions and thoughts, chronic stress, negative life events and poor coping capacities.

Patients with Dysthymia will often experience negative emotions, hopelessness, unexplained sadness, feeling of guilt, poor social skills, insomnia and sleepiness during the daytime, loss of appetite or increased appetite, weakness, lack of self-esteem and trouble in concentration. However, the diagnostic criteria for Dysthymia include a history of depressed mood on most of the days in a year for at least two years associated with at least two of the symptoms mentioned above.

As far as the modality of treatment for this condition is concerned, psychotherapy such as interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. is indicated in most individuals with or without prescribing anti-depressants, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Main Difference - Cyclothymia vs Dysthymia

Difference Between Cyclothymia and Dysthymia


Cyclothymia:Cyclothymia is characterized by alternating episodes of both elevated moods or euphoria and depression.

Dysthymia: Dysthymia is only characterized by phases of mild depression.


Cyclothymia: Genetics and positive family history are considered as high risk factors.

Dysthymia: Genetics, positive family history, abnormal brain functioning, chronic stress, negative life events, and poor coping capacities.

Treatment Methods

Cyclothymia: Cyclothymia will need both antipsychotics and anti-depressants.

Dysthymia: Dysthymia will only need anti-depressant drug therapy along with psychotherapy.


Cyclothymia: People who are suffering from Cyclothymia have an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder later in life.

Dysthymia: Dysthymia patients have a tendency to get affected by severe chronic depression over time.

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About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music

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