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Ultra rapid cycling or cyclothymia?

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I have some form of bipolar disorder, and I'm not sure if I would be diagnosed with ultra-rapid cycling bipolar or cyclothymia.  Ultra-rapid cycling means you have at least four episodes a month.  Cyclothymia means you have mood swings between a depressed state and an elevated state, none of which meet the criteria for a mania, hypomania, or depression.  My understanding is that cyclothymia means your mood swings are mild and do not have enough symptoms to qualify for a diagnosis.


I typically have about five to ten episodes a month, and unlike the mood swings of cyclothymia, they are not mild at all; in fact yesterday I had a hypomanic episode that escalated into full-blown mania.  My episodes satisfy all the diagnostic criteria for depression and mania/hypomania except for one: the length.  I do not meet the diagnostic criteria for mania or depression because my episodes are only a few hours long.  A manic episode has to last for at least four days, and a depressive episode has to last for at least a week.


So my question is, do my symptoms sound like cyclothymia or ultra-rapid cycling?  I think I have one of those two, but I do not seem to meet the diagnostic criteria for either cyclothymia or regular bipolar disorder.

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This is the kind of question that should be directed toward your health care providers.


There are SUBSTANTIAL qualitative and quantitative differences between ultrarapid cycling and cyclothymia. And nobody who is a random nutter on the internet can tell you which of those you have, because we're not qualified.


Cyclothymia is basically a "low grade" bipolar. Cyclothymia is to bipolar disorder as dysthymia is to major depressive disorder.


Ultrarapid cycling, however, is very intense.


It's difficult, if not impossible, to accurately diagnose oneself.


More importantly, however, is regardless of the diagnosis what the treatment plan looks like so that you feel and function better.

Edited by Wooster
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Cyclothymia is a diagnosis of it's own. Ultra-rapid cycling is a form of bipolar. If your pdoc diagnosed you with bipolar, then he did not diagnose you with cyclothymia.


Is your pdoc saying that you do not have SZA? Or is he saying that you have SZA, bipolar type? Bipolar is a type of SZA. It also is its own illness.


It sounds like you need to talk to your pdoc some more about your diagnosis. Doing so is important mostly in terms of understanding how to manage your illness and your treatment plan.

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