New Study Recommends CBT for Cyclothymic Mood Swings

A recent study emphasizes the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy and well-being therapy for the treatment of clients with cyclothymic mood swings. Cyclothymic moods can often impair a person’s ability to function productively. The lead researcher, Giovanni Fava, of the University of Bologna, described the symptoms. “These patients can change mood in a matter of hours, moving from being cheerful and warm to be irritable and blue, without reaching the prolonged states of bipolar disorder. This is a neglected disorder since there is no approved drug treatment for it. It is attributed to temperament, something you cannot do anything about it. But we discovered something else.”

The study focused on the effects of well-being therapy (WBT) with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus the effects of clinical management (CM) alone. The test subjects were divided into two groups, one receiving the WBT and CBT, the other receiving only the clinical management. Each group received 10 forty-five minute sessions every other week. The results were evaluated at the end of the therapy, and again one year and two years after completion. The findings showed that the subjects that received the CBT and WBT made greater progress than those in the CM group. Additional improvements were seen at the one and two year marks as well.

The researchers concluded that because CBT and WBT focus on anxiety as well as the polarities found in mood swings, the clients in this group saw dramatic relief from their symptoms of cyclothymic moods. Professor Ross Baldessarnini, a mood expert from Harvard Medical School, underscores the importance of these results.  “We discovered that cyclothymic disorder is essentially an abnormal reactivity to environmental stimuli. By decreasing the level of anxiety and tension and by increasing psychological well-being these mood swings may fade away. There is a lot to be done, particularly in troubled adolescents.”

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Ronald T

    Ronald T

    May 12th, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    CBT has been in the news lately,hasn’t it? Its been given great reviews for a number of mental issues and seems like something that holds a lot of promise. I am pretty sure it was not developed with all the issues in mind but it has proved to be effective for a lot of them so really,CBT is not only giving returns but bonus as well.

  • sasha


    May 13th, 2011 at 4:26 AM

    how would these mood swings compare to those with bipolar disorder?



    May 13th, 2011 at 7:01 AM

    It’s encouraging to see that we are now speaking of therapy and therapeutic techniques, and especially for youngsters and adolescents instead of medications and pharmaceutical treatment methods. There is a lot of changes happening in the bodies of adolescents and meds could actually interfere with those things and prove detrimental rather than solving the problems…!

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