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Q:  Euthymia

Dr. Phelps,
My question is in regards to the euthymic, or "normal mood" in bipolar disorder.   I was curious how extensive the euthymic mood is for the average bipolar?  Also, why after going through various mood states, does one simply become 'normal' again?

I realize that bipolar disorder is what we term a "spectrum of moods", but somehow this concept is puzzling. Does one swing into the normal mood when there are less stressors in the persons life? Is stress irrelevant when one swings into the normal mood?   Does every bipolar experience the euthymic mood?   Sorry to be so nitpicking with questions. The euthymic mood has been a focus of interest for me.

Dear Stephanie -- 
That's an understandable question.  I saw a patient this morning who was "in the middle", as she put it, for the first time in as long as she could remember, and she found it a very strange feeling.  So, this "in the middle" idea is how I'd recommend that you think of it.  Or better, the "absence of cycling".  That leaves you approaching each day in about the same way each time, as opposed to over-energized in some fashion (good or bad), or low energy/depressed.  Things will happen, you'll feel sad about them or happy about other things, but you'll be responding to events rather than changing on your own.  That's what I think "euthymia" is.   Stress is relevant because if your mood stabilizers aren't working well enough, stress can start you cycling again (often apparent first in your hours of sleep per night, or getting broken sleep when you were sleeping through the night).  Hope that helps. 

Dr. Phelps

Published August, 2002


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