Numerous alternating episodes of depression and hypomania present over a period of two years is known as cyclothymic disorder. It is slow in onset and usually starts before the age of 21. The symptoms though similar to bipolar disorder are less severe and the duration of each episode is less than two months.

The mood shifts are often without any external contributory factor for e.g. a person may go to sleep in a good mood but wake up in tears. Repeated romantic breakups are common and they often shift job sand places, losing interest fast and leaving in dissatisfaction. The person may start working with great enthusiasm but their efforts rarely bring fruits. It is often associated with substance abuse and alcoholism. It may progress to bipolar depression.