What Is Cyclical Depression?

Reviewed by Dawn Brown, LPC, NCC

Published 12/11/2020

The American Psychiatric Association shows depression as a common and serious medical illness that can negatively affect people's feelings, thoughts, and actions. It's also seen as characterized by feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy. It tends to interfere with your function at home and work after causing emotional and physical problems.

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Depression can be overwhelming and can affect your relationships. There are different forms of depression— some are discovered to be far more harmful than others. It's advisable to know the cause of your condition to know how to effectively manage it. One of the forms of depression that can seriously be disturbing is cyclical depression.

What Is Cyclical Depression?

Cyclical Depression, also known as recurrent depression, is a mental health disorder characterized by “cyclical and recurrent" epithets. It's technically about occurring, abating, and reoccurring completely through a person's life-span. It may be a little bit arduous to self-diagnose cyclical depression since emotions are unstable.

Cyclical depression can characteristically have some things in common with other forms of anxiety and depression, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). So, it important that you carefully monitor and attend to co-occurring diagnoses of mental health and substance abuse— this is an effective way to support people suffering from cyclical depression.

Moreover, research shows a link between cyclical depression and some mental illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). OCD and panic attacks are mental disorders that can affect people's thinking skills and function, initiating depressive episodes. Also, several individuals suffering from PTSD experience depressive symptoms in recurring patterns. It's also shown that physical illness such as aneurysms and cancer can also connect with cyclical depression.

Depression does not only affect you; it also affects those around you. Therefore, it's pertinent that you see your doctor if you see some common symptoms or click here for an online depression test to potentially verify the symptoms you are experiencing.

What Are The Types Of Cyclical Depression?

There are different types of cyclical depression, and each with its specific characteristics. They are as follows:

  • Cyclothymia: Cyclothymia is a type of cyclical depression seen as rare and has some similar bipolar disorder traits. But its traits are milder. People suffering from cyclothymia can easily "snap out of it"; however, your condition may also get worse when it's unresolved. You should seek medical assistance the moment you discover that you have been affected by cyclothymia. It often occurs with sleep disorders, substance abuse issues, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cyclothymia symptoms may include crying, pessimism, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, restlessness, weight changes, loneliness, or withdrawal.
  • Dysthymia: Dysthymia is a type of cyclical depression considered to be milder than over forms of depression. It's a long-term condition with fewer symptoms when compared with major depression. Dysthymia can also be called persistent depressive disorder (PDD) or chronic depression.

Dysthymia is not as overwhelming as "full-blown" depression. However, it can be recurrent (repeatedly coming over the years). Research shows that it often develops during childhood and is left undiagnosed for many years. It can affect both sexes— nonetheless, women are shown to seek medical help than men do. The major triggers of dysthymia are stressful events, death of loved ones, loss of a job or a pet, or election.

Sometimes, if it runs in the family, you may be at risk of experiencing it. Some of the symptoms of dysthymia may include changes in weight, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed, fatigue, sadness all day long, changes in sleep patterns, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty making decisions, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

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  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Seasonal affective disorder is a type of cyclical depression linked to insufficient sunlight. SAD is a mood disorder that is experienced in a specific period of the year. There are places where winter can be unpleasantly rough. SAD has less to do with genetics and more to do with where you live. Natural sunlight has lots of benefits to offer to the human body. One of these is that it helps boost vitamin D (good for mental health) — when this is lacking, there is a high propensity that you may experience the symptoms of depression. Some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may include too much sleep, low energy, anger, changes in appetite, low energy, irritability, anxiety, sadness, changes in relationships, loss of motivation, dread about the future, feelings of guilt, and loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed.

How To Manage Cyclical Depression

The different types of cyclical depression are treatable. To know the specific type you may be suffering from, you may need the help of a trained or qualified mental health professional. This is because the types have a bit in common with one another. You need to seek ways to live a better life if you're experiencing any kind of depression that is recurring.

Depressive disorder symptoms can interfere with your day-to-day life— it can make you go through tough times in your relationships, at work, or keeping up with other obligations. The feelings of an episode of cyclical depression can be different from person to person. Several people report that they can feel it like “a storm" or “a migraine. " Besides, it can come in the form of losing focus, feeling distracted, or an unusual feeling of increased tiredness. Fortunately, there are ways to manage these symptoms. You can seek the help of a therapist or engage in various coping techniques. The following are some of the ways to manage your condition:

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  • Medications: General, medication is one of the available ways to deal with their mental health challenges. It can be described as effective, but it must not be used without a doctor's or psychiatrist's prescription. Some individuals feel indifferent about the use of meditation; however, you can endeavor to accept your prescription with an open mind and use it as directed; you might be incredibly astonished by the improvement you would see thereafter. Different drugs may be prescribed by a psychiatrist for the treatment of cyclical depression. These may include Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft, Pexava, and Celexa. Some are used every day to prevent the development of an episode of depression, while others are used intermittently when you're experiencing low mood.
  • Psychotherapy: Different types of therapy can effectively help overcome cyclical depression. Your therapists can recommend counseling or talk therapy for you. Generally, expressing your feelings helps relieve yourself of stress, even if you're not bothered by anything. You can either see your doctor face-to-face or through an online platform. Online therapy may be a good choice if you don't feel like seeing your therapist in person. Online therapy is more convenient and maybe cost-effective.
  • Avoiding Substance Or Drug Abuse: Several individuals tend to rely on substances or drugs, believing that they can help eliminate unwanted feelings. However, Self-Medicating can be very disastrous. This is because the use of alcohol (a depressant), for instance, can aggravate your condition. Although it may relieve the symptoms tentatively, it can be destructive to your mood in the long term. Also, excessive alcohol intake can cause serious damage to your body, affect your job, and interfere with your relationships with friends and family.

Moreover, some people also rely on marijuana to deal with depression. This is a well-known way through which they believe that they can boost their mood. Based on this, they tend to smoke many times per day to "high" and feel ready to interact with people around them. Consequently, the incessant use of marijuana for mood regulation can negatively affect you psychologically.

When To Talk To A Doctor

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Always ensure that you seek help when you need it. You can seek out the assistance of a competent doctor when you start to experience the symptoms of depression. It's very pertinent that you discuss your condition in detail with your doctor need concerning how you feel and the symptoms you've seen. This is because cyclical depression symptoms usually seem milder at the onset but might relapse if ignored or downplayed. You should handle depression seriously like it and not see it as a condition that will go away on its own. Also, it may not be you but your loved one. You shouldn't take it lightly, but quickly seek the help of your doctor.

Depression, most times, is linked with substance abuse. When these occur together, you should know that the treatment options to go with must be for both conditions. This is referred to as dual diagnosis treatment.