What is Rapid Cycling Bipolar? Definition, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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What is rapid cycling bipolar?

Someone who is experiencing many episodes of illness each year is called rapid cycling bipolar. Out of one in every five people is with bipolar disorder, they must deal with a more complicated aspect of their condition.

Rapid cycling bipolar is featured by mood swings which are random and unpredictable. It has four or more manic, hypomanic or depressive episodes within a 12 month period. It can happen at any time during the bipolar disorder. This occurs in 10-20% of people with bipolar disorder and it is more common among women.

Nearly 2 million people of the U.S. population, which is about 2.5% of the total population is suffering from bipolar.

The people suffering from bipolar disorder may find trouble in managing daily life, tasks or maintaining relationships. The bipolar disorder varies from person to person, rapid cycling also means different things to different people.

Rapid Cyclic Bipolar

According to the clinical definition, there must be 4 episodes in a year, however, some people experience multiple mood shifts on the same day. Basically, this is a mental illness marked by different mood swing from high to low or vice-a-versa.

Bipolar disorder not only develops in older teenagers, but it can also appear in children as young as 6 as well. As per the experts is a rare disease, and others think its opposite of it. That’s why it becomes hard to be sure how common it is.

Some diagnostic named it Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, which can be found in the children ages 6-18. The persistent irritability and temper outbursts don’t fulfill the conventional definitions of bipolar disorder.

Rapid cycling bipolar causes

Rapid cycling bipolar causes

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mental health condition which causes extreme mood swings including mania/hypomania and depression. Here are the causes of rapid cycling bipolar:


A stressful life due to any death in the family, an illness, divorce or any other depressive episode. The person dealing with stress has the greatest chances to develop a mental illness.

Brain structure

Brain scans cannot diagnose bipolar disorder, although experts have found some difference in the average size or activation of some brain structures in people with bipolar disorder.


The chances of developing bipolar are increased if the parents or sibling has the disorder. It does not mean the genetics role is absolute, as a child from the family with a bipolar disorder may never develop the disorder.

In the case of twins, one may have rapid cycling bipolar disorder and others may not.

Rapid cycling bipolar pictures

Rapid cycling bipolar pictures

rapid cycling bipolar pattern
rapid cycling bipolar patient
rapid cycling bipolar fever
Rapid cycling bipolar symptoms

Rapid cycling bipolar symptoms

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed after some experiences like the hypomanic/manic episode with multiple additional episodes of mania, depressions or hypomania. It is hard to gain self-awareness with this illness, but once you come to know it’s just like an asthma attack.

Here I am going to mention the symptoms of bipolar disorder with its symptoms and treatment.

Bipolar I Disorder

It can cause dramatic mood swings. In this situation, the patient feels high and on the top of the world or uncomfortably irritable. During a depressive episode, he/she may feel hopeless. However, there are often periods of normal moods in between these episodes.

Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when the following situation happens.

Manic Episode

A manic episode is the time period of at least one week in which a person is very high spirited/irritable in an extreme way most of the day for most days. He/she has more energy than usual and experience the least three of the following.

  1. Needs less sleep.
  2. Talks loudly, quickly and more than the usual.
  3. Can be distracted easily.
  4. Doing many works at the same time, scheduling more even in a day that can be accomplished.
  5. Take risks like reckless driving, spending sprees etc.
  6. Changing ideas and thoughts quickly or racing thoughts.

Hypomanic Episode

This is similar to Manic Episode, but the symptoms are less severe and last four days in a row. It doesn’t lead to major risk and problems that often mania often causes and the person is still able to work.

Major depressive episode

The major depressive episode takes two weeks in which a person faces at least five of the following.

  1. Feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless, intense sadness or despair.
  2. Loss of interest in activities which enjoyed once.
  3. Feeling guilty or worthless.
  4. Sleepless or sleeps too much.
  5. Feeling restless, hand-wringing, slowed speech or movements.
  6. Changes in appetite may increase or decrease.
  7. Loss of energy and feeling fatigue.
  8. Frequent thoughts of death/ suicide.

Bipolar I risk factors

Bipolar disorder can run in families. According to the research, 80-90% of people with bipolar disorder have a relative which may have depression or bipolar disorder. Apart from this the environmental factors also contribute to a bipolar disorder such as extreme stress, sleep disruption, drugs, alcohol, etc.

How Bipolar I can be treated?

Bipolar disorder is a treatable disease, medication alone or a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication is used to manage this. The treatment depends on the sufferer as a different person responds to treatment in different ways.

In the worst case if the above medication doesn’t work a treatment named ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) may be used. In this treatment the electrical current is applied on the scalp, keeping the patient under anesthesia. This procedure takes 10-15 minutes time for twice or thrice a week. There will be total 6-12 treatment will be there.

Rapid cycling bipolar treatment

Rapid cycling bipolar treatment

Bipolar II Disorder

This involves a person suffering at least one major depressive episode with at least one hypomanic episode. The sufferer back to the usual function between episodes and often seeks treatment due to depressive symptoms that can be severe.

The patient often has other co-occurring mental illness like anxiety, disorder or substance use disorder.

How Bipolar II can be treated?

The treatment of bipolar II is similar to Bipolar I which is medication and psychotherapy. In case the depression symptoms are severe and medication is not working, then ECT may be used. The treatment is different from one person to another.

Cyclothymic Disorder

This is the mildest form of bipolar disorder which involves many mood swings, with hypomania and depressive symptoms that occur often and a constant. The sufferers experience emotional ups and downs, but less severe symptoms as compared to bipolar I and II.

Symptoms of Cyclothymic disorder

1. For at least two year period of time of hypomanic and depressive symptoms. Keep in mind the symptoms don’t meet the criteria for a hypomanic or depressive episode.

2. During the two-year period, the symptoms have lasted at least half the time and do not remain for more than 2 months.

How Cyclothymic Disorder can be treated?

Treatment for Cyclothymic Disorder involves medication as well as talk therapy. For many patients, talk therapy can help with the stress of ongoing high/low moods. The sufferer of this disease can start or stop treatment over time.

Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of bipolar disorder or any mental health condition.

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