Cyclothymia, cyclothymic disorder, is a mood disorder characterized by alternating periods of high and low mood states. Low mood states frequently result in mild to moderate depression that does not meet the criteria for severe depression. Periods of hypomania, or an elevated mood state, may also occur. Hypomania is less severe than mania and does not necessarily impair social and occupational functioning. Although cyclothymia is frequently referred to as less severe form of bipolar disorder, diagnosing and treating cyclothymia is vital. Without treatment, cyclothymic mood states can worsen in severity and result in severe depression and mania. Cyclothymia does not necessarily have to be treated with conventional treatment methods such as talk therapy and medication. In many cases, natural remedies for cyclothymia are safe and effective alternatives to traditional methods of treatment. This article explores natural remedies for cyclothymia.
The following relaxation techniques may have a positive effect in the treatment for cyclothymia.These techniques may reduce stress and anxiety, which are significant triggers for individuals with cyclothymia. It should be noted, however, that evidence into the efficacy of these treatments for cyclothymic disorder is lacking. Some support has been found for these natural remedies in the treatment for bipolar disorder and depression, however no research has been conducted on cyclothymia itself.
- Yoga. In a study conducted by Lavey et al. for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, yoga was found to improve mood in 113 psychiatric patients. These included individuals with depression and bipolar disorder. It is not known whether any of the individuals had cyclothymic disorder.
- Meditation. Meditation is the practice of developing mindfulness and cultivating a self-induced mode of consciousness for some psychological or altruistic benefit. Ball, Corry and Mitchell in the book Innovations and Advances in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy suggested that meditation may be particularly useful for individuals with bipolar disorder due to the strong negative effect stress and anxiety has on relapse rates.
- Mindfulness Techniques. Similar to meditation, mindfulness refers to the practice of observing thoughts and emotions without judgement.Mindfulness may reduce stress and increase positive coping mechanisms such as acceptance.
Herbal and Nutritional Supplements
Research into natural remedies for cyclothymia is limited, however there is some support that both St. John's Wort and Vitamin D may ease symptoms of mild depression.
- St. John's Wort. St. John's Wort, or Hypericum Perforatum, is a yellow-flowered plant that can be used in the treatment of mild depression. One study by Linde, Berner and Kriston published in the Cochrane Database System Review found St John's Wort is as effective as a standard antidepressant in individuals with depression and more effective than a placebo. St John's Wort may interact with other medication and may cause side effects in some individuals, including an increased risk for hypomania.
- Vitamin D.Preliminary research has supported a correlation between low vitamin D and depression. Jorde and colleagues, for example, conducted a randomized double blind study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. They assessed 441 participants receiving 20,000IU (international units) of vitamin D or a placebo over the course of a year. Individuals receiving vitamin D reported less depressive symptoms than those receiving a placebo. Vitamin D is obtained through exposure to the sun, the consumption of vitamins or exposure to a sun lamp.
This article is for information purposes only and is not designed to replace sound medical advice and opinion.
Jorde, R., Sneve, M., Torjesen, P., Figenschau, Y., & Hansen, J. B. Parameters of the Thrombogram are associated with Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels at Baseline, but not Affected During Supplementation with Vitamin D. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2010. 125: 5.
Knittel, L. Basic Health Publications User's Guide to Natural Remedies for Depression. Basic Health Publications. 2003.
Inde K, Berner MM, & Kriston L St John's wort for major depression. Cochrane Database System Review. 2008.
Lavey, R. et al. The Effects of Yoga on Mood in Psychiatric Patients. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. 2005. 28:4.
Ball, J., Corry, J., & Mitchell, P. Mindfulness Meditation and Bipolar Disorder. In: Innovations and Advances in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Einstein, D. A. (Ed.). Australian Academic Press, New York, 37-42.