Will a cyclothymia diagnosis change my life?
June 23, 2009 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Experiences with a cyclothymia diagnosis? Particularly on the NHS

I'm pretty convinced I have cyclothymia, I wont get into my symptoms because I'm not looking for an armchair diagnosis from internet amateurs (however, if you are a qualified professional and want to discuss it, throwaway email: anonymefi42@googlemail.com). If I do choose to try to get diagnosed, it will be with my real doctor.

I'm looking for personal experiences being diagnosed as cyclothymic - did it change anything?

The reason I'm wondering if its worth trying to get an official diagnosis (which as I understand it takes 2 years of observation) is the treatment seems to be psychotherapy - but only to assist in coping with it and recognising the signs of an episode coming on - well I'm already coping with it and I'm pretty good at recognising when I'm about to have an episode but that doesn't make them any less disruptive, and the medication options all seem pretty nasty, not guaranteed effective and seem to focus on the mania more than the depression.

For me, the 'up' episodes are much less frequent (approx 5 - 8 episodes over 4 years compared to 8-10 per year depressive episodes) and severe than the 'down' episodes and while they're both equally disruptive of my work, at least the 'up' parts feel good.

I particularly interesting in hearing experiences with the NHS, the NHS choices website doesn't even mention cyclothymia (or Type I/Type II - just 'bipolar disorder').

I am coping with it but I'm getting sick of coping with it, really I just want it to go away but I don't think that's an option. I want to be in control of my emotions, if I'm sad, I want there to be a reason, if I'm climbing the walls with happiness, I want it to be for a reason.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
Can't speak to DHS being in America, but I can say - Lithium is a proven, affordable, amazing drug... if it works for you (for some people the side effects are too much).

Additionally cyclothymia can develop into full bipolar, and you most certainly want some sort of medical relationship before that happens, if you think hypo mania or (relatively) mild depression is bad.

Finally, if untreated bipolar episodes are degenerative (they get worse and more frequent, possibly more psychotic) the more they happen. I'm not sure if that cycle of degeneration is common with cyclothymia, but why take that risk, go talk to a doctor.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:03 AM on June 23, 2009

posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:03 AM on June 23, 2009

I am US-ian, so I can't speak to getting mental health services from the NHS, but I wanted to point out a couple things.

You have no idea if you're cyclothymic or not. It's extremely hard to pin down and it would be hard for many psychiatrists to agree on what is cyclothymia, what is bipolar, and what is just depression that goes on and off.

What you do know is that your emotions aren't where they should be much of the time and that's exactly what therapy is for. You say you're coping without it, but if you're not in control as much as you want to be, maybe you need some extra tools. Therapy can give you those, whatever your diagnosis is. CBT is one kind of therapy that can be very short term, nowhere near two years of observation required. See if the NHS will provide you access to someone who does that type of therapy, or look into other types that you might find more agreeable than traditional psychotherapy.
posted by slow graffiti at 10:29 AM on June 23, 2009

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