BBC Radio 1 presenter Matt Edmondson announced he has cyclothymia, but many people are unaware of this mood disorder’s existence.
Edmondson presents the Weekend Breakfast Show alongside The Saturdays’ star Mollie King, and fronts ITV gameshow Dress to Impress.
Though he may put on a brave face and entertain the nation, behind the scenes he’s been dealing with a widely unknown mental illness.
What is cyclothymia?
Cyclothymia, also known as cyclothymic disorder, is a mild mood disorder, but if left untreated can develop into bipolar disorder.
This condition causes mood changes from feeling low to emotional highs.
However, as the severity of these symptoms isn’t on the scale of the likes of bipolar disorder, those experiencing cyclothymia often don’t seek treatment and don’t realise there’s anything wrong with them.
Signs to look out for
Those with cyclothymia will go through periods known as hypomania, which is a milder form of mania, lasting a few days as opposed to a week or longer.
During these spells, you may feel a lot more active than usual, feel exhilarated, sleep very little, become easily distracted, get increasingly agitated and display risky behaviour such as excessive alcohol and drug abuse or dangerous driving.
Matt Edmondson described these bouts as feeling “fantastic” because he has “relentless energy, sense of excitement and hunger for new ideas” but this has also proved harmful to his wellbeing.
He said: “I don’t get much sleep, don’t eat when I should and get tremendous volumes of work done in very short spaces of time, often neglecting everything else around me.”
On the other hand, people with cyclothymia will also endure depressive periods where they feel sad, hopeless, a sense of emptiness, irritable, loss of interest in hobbies or daily activities, struggle to sleep, feel worthless, restless and fatigued.
In the end, the “down times” were the reason Matt sought professional help as his depressive spells are also “accompanied by incredibly strong anxious thoughts.”
What age will the symptoms begin to appear?
Cyclothymia typically begins during someone’s teenage years or young adulthood, affecting both males and females in equal measure.
With bipolar disorder, women tend to develop this condition at a later stage than men. On average, the first onset of symptoms appear in men at the age of 22, whereas for women its 27.
Causes of cyclothymia
The exact cause of cyclothymia isn’t currently known.
However, many people with this condition will go on to develop bipolar disorder. These two conditions tend to run in families.
Children who have a mother or father with bipolar disorder are estimated to have a 10-25% chance of also developing the illness.
Cyclothymia can be treated through mood stabilising medication such as lithium.
Anti-depressants can help tackle the low periods, but some experts are reluctant to prescribe them as they only target the low moods. In turn, this can cause the individual to simply switch to the other extreme of hypomania.
Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also be useful, as the individual gets the opportunity to speak with a trained therapist who can help them find ways to manage their symptoms by changing the way you think and behave.
The aim of the treatment is to help prevent cyclothymia developing into bipolar disorder, stop the symptoms coming back or reduce the symptoms as much as possible.
For support regarding cyclothymia or bipolar disorder, you can visit the Bipolar Scotland website or call their helpline on 0141 560 2050.