Though attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cyclothymia have some similar symptoms, researchers don’t fully understand how deep the connections go.

Many neurodevelopmental conditions and mental health conditions have some overlap. And oftentimes, you’ll notice similarities in things like risk factors, symptoms, treatment options, and more.

For example, ADHD, a neurodevelopmental condition, and cyclothymia, a mental health condition, each have distinct features. But, research shows that there’s a strong relationship between these two disorders, with a significant overlap in symptoms and more.

Ahead, we’ll explore what research says about the relationship between ADHD and cyclothymia. We’ll also discuss whether one condition causes the other, how the symptoms compare, and what treatment looks like if you’re living with both conditions.

ADHD and cyclothymia are two separate disorders, and each disorder has its own risk factors, symptoms, and treatment. But according to research, there’s some overlap between the two conditions.

In one early study from 2012, researchers explored the relationship between cyclothymic temperament and ADHD in Swedish adults. Study results showed that in people with ADHD, a cyclothymic temperament was associated with more ADHD symptoms and an increased risk of other psychiatric conditions.

Another study from 2016 investigated the frequency of ADHD among people with various affective disorders.

According to the study results, the prevalence of ADHD was 48% in the bipolar disorder group, compared with only 12% in the control group. Also, people with ADHD in all groups of the study were more likely to have cyclothymic temperaments.

In a more recent study from 2021, researchers explored the connection between ADHD and cyclothymia. Results of the study found that there was a significant overlap between the prevalence and symptoms of both conditions — roughly 25% of study participants with ADHD also had cyclothymic disorder.

But with all the overlap between these conditions, is it possible that ADHD can cause cyclothymia, or vice versa? Not necessarily.

Is cyclothymia a version of ADHD?

No, cyclothymia and ADHD are two different types of disorders:

  • ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity-impulsiveness, or a combination of both types of symptoms.
  • Cyclothymia is a mental health disorder characterized by fluctuating moods that alternate between mild depressive and mild manic symptoms.

There is some intersection between some of the symptoms of cyclothymia and ADHD, and some people can have both conditions at the same time, but there’s no research to suggest that cyclothymia is a type of ADHD.

Was this helpful?

It’s true that research shows a strong relationship between ADHD and cyclothymia, with both conditions often occurring together. It’s also true that ADHD has many of the same symptoms as conditions such as bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder.

But, even with the overlap, ADHD only appears to be an early indicator that someone might have one of these conditions. It’s not necessarily a risk factor for them.

At the end of the day, researchers are still exploring the relationship between ADHD and cyclothymia, and more studies are needed to explore the link between the two.

Cyclothymia and ADHD can cause similar symptoms, especially when it comes to the hypomanic symptoms of cyclothymia. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult for people to receive an accurate diagnosis of either condition.

Below, you’ll find a comparison of some of the more common signs and symptoms of ADHD versus cyclothymia:

extreme mood changesnot usuallyyes
extremely low energynot usuallyyes
extremely high energyyesyes
racing thoughtsyesyes
trouble concentratingyesyes
impulsive behaviorsyesyes
changes in sleep habitssometimesyes
changes in appetitesometimesyes
changes in libidonot usuallyyes

ADHD and cyclothymia are also similar because, if left untreated, they can significantly affect someone’s ability to function in their daily life.

For example, both conditions can affect your responsibilities at school or work, your relationships with others, and even your ability to maintain good sleep, diet, and other lifestyle habits.

ADHD and cyclothymia are often treated and managed with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Some of the common treatment options for cyclothymia include:

Some of the common treatment options for ADHD include:

  • Medications: Two classes of medication commonly used to treat ADHD include stimulant medications and nonstimulant medications that affect norepinephrine.
  • Therapy: Behavioral approaches such as CBT, and other approaches such as parent training or social skills training, are often used to help manage ADHD symptoms.

If you’re in treatment for ADHD and cyclothymia, there’s a chance that some of your treatment options address the symptoms of both conditions.

For example, a doctor might prescribe an antidepressant such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), under observation to prevent changes in mood, to treat both your ADHD and cyclothymia symptoms. Or a CBT therapist might choose to teach you skills that can help you manage both of your conditions together.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that can cause inattentive symptoms, hyperactivity-impulsive symptoms, or both. Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, is a mood disorder that causes alternating mild depression and hypomania.

While ADHD and cyclothymia are separate diagnoses, research has shown that there is some overlap between the symptoms and prevalence of these conditions. Several studies have also shown that people with ADHD are more likely to be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder, or even bipolar disorder, later in life.

If you’re living with the symptoms of these conditions, dual treatment can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.