Euthymia and Bipolar Disorder
In simple terms, euthymia is the state of living without mood disturbances. It’s commonly associated with bipolar disorder.
While in a euthymic state, one typically experiences feelings of cheerfulness and tranquility. A person in this state may also display an increased level of resiliency to stress.One way of understanding a euthymic mood is to think of it in terms of the severity of the symptoms. If depression is on one end of the bipolar disorder continuum and mania is at the other end, euthymia lies somewhere in the middle. That’s why you can think of euthymic as living in a state of “normal” or “stable” moods.
People with dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder), or other types of mood disorders, may also experience periods of euthymia.
How to identify a euthymic mood
Being able to identify a euthymic mood is important when trying to distinguish between states of mania or depression and states of calm and steady moods. When you’re in a euthymic mood, you’ll likely experience periods of calmness and happiness.
Euthymia is dramatically different from the periods of sadness and hopelessness that you feel when experiencing depression, or the extreme peaks of energy you experience when in a state of mania.
While the experience of euthymia varies from person to person, some of the more common signs that you’re in a euthymic mood include feeling:
- enthusiastic (this is typically a moderate enthusiasm)
Another area to consider when talking about the role euthymia plays in bipolar disorder is the presence of anxiety disorders. A 2016 study found that anxiety disorders are quite common with bipolar disorder.
Researchers found that anxiety is prevalent even when moods are adequately controlled. In other words, you may still experience symptoms of an anxiety disorder when in a euthymic state or mood. This points to the need for treatment that also focuses on anxiety disorders.
While a euthymic mood is considered a relatively normal or steady-state, there are a few ways that you can experience euthymia.
- Euthymia with reactive affect. A reactive effect in a euthymic state means that you respond appropriately to the subject of a conversation.
- Euthymia with congruent affect. Congruent euthymia is evident when your emotions match the situation. In other words, the emotional reaction you have is congruent or in agreement with the situation you’re experiencing.
Treatment considerations for bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness, which means there’s no cure. Because of this, you’ll often need to work with your doctor and therapist to manage your symptoms. Treating bipolar disorder includes assessing euthymic moods.
Since the moods associated with bipolar disorder range from depression to mania, with euthymia in the middle, it’s essential to include this middle or steady-state in an overall treatment plan for bipolar disorder. Documenting the amount of time spent in a normal state — not just in depression or mania — can help direct your type of treatment.
Standard treatment options for bipolar disorder include medication, psychotherapy (talk therapy), and lifestyle changes.
There are several medications available for treating bipolar disorder including mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and in some cases, benzodiazepines.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can help you understand bipolar disorder and come up with ways to manage the moods. Popular forms of therapy for bipolar disorder include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.
Additionally, a clinical trial found that a particular type of therapy (well-being therapy) is an effective intervention during euthymic states.
Lifestyle changes are part of an overall treatment plan for bipolar disorder. Some of the more common modifications include eating a healthy and balanced diet of regularly timed meals, seeking out family and friends for support, taking the time to learn about and understand your mood swings, and making time to talk to a professional.
The bottom line
If you’re part of the population living with bipolar disorder, you know all too well how the full range of moods can affect your daily life. From the low periods of depression to the high states of mania, managing these ups and downs can feel like a never-ending battle.
With that said, taking the time to assess, understand, and manage the “middle” or euthymic mood that many people with bipolar disorder spend half of their time in, may help with developing coping strategies to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.