What Is Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder?

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We all know that bipolar disorder revolves around frequent mood swings. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is diagnosed when an individual frequently experiences mood swings for four or more than that within a year. An episode of bipolar disorder may also consist of hypomania, mania, or depression.

In order to be formally diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, an individual also must be struggling with these episodes which must be defined through a period of reduction or switching to the opposite polarization. Research shows that some people diagnosed with bipolar disorder also alternate between depressive and manic episodes once or twice per year.

Additionally, only a small percentage of people struggle with rapid cycling (wherein mood swings enter fast and frequently. Rapid cycling is a severe form of bipolar disorder which impairs the regular functioning and overall quality of life.

In this blog, we will be taking a deep look at what is rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. So, let’s get started!

What is Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder?

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is a form of bipolar disorder identified by four or more mood episodes that might alternate between depression or mania in a year. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is not a type of bipolar disorder and it does not stand for a formal diagnosis however, it acts as a specifier for describing rapid and frequent mood swings.

Characteristics and Symptoms of Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

During rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, mood swings are more unpredictable and random. Research shows that there is no set pattern for the occurrence of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder and its form. In some individuals, the episodes might occur every few months and, in some individuals, the episodes might occur weekly or monthly.

The fact is that rapid-cycling bipolar disorder does not stand for clinical diagnosis; however, it can act as a specifier or description related to the form of bipolar disorder. As of now, researchers don’t know why rapid cycling occurs. Rapid cycling in some can be a precursor of diseases such as psychosis.

The major symptom of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder is the frequent transition from depression to mania or hypomania. Generally, symptoms of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder involve four or more episodes within 12 months. These mood swings may last for days or weeks and might happen randomly. Some symptoms might be longer or shorter than others depending on the severity. Below listed are some of the common symptoms of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder involving mania and depression:

Common symptoms of mania episode

Increased mental and physical energy
Less sleep
Irritability or anger
Impulsivity, aggressiveness, or uncontrollable outbursts

Common symptoms of depressive episode

Consistent sadness
Crying spells
Indifferent or pessimistic personality
Lack of energy
Sleeping too much or unable to sleep at all
Anxiety, anger, or agitation
Worthlessness or hopelessness

Causes of Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

As of now, there’s no particular cause known behind the development of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Research shows that 12 to 24 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder develop rapid cycling at some point. Occurrence of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder might be associated with:

Severe bipolar disorder 1
Prolonged consumption of antidepressants
History of substance use disorder

Risk Factors of Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Research shows that around 5% to 10% of people are likely to meet the criteria of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Listed below are some of the common risk factors associated with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder:

Age: Teens with bipolar disorder are more prone to developing rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
Type of bipolar: Individuals diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder are prone to developing rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
Sex: Females are at a risk of developing rapid cycling as compared to men. Studies show that this can occur due to hormonal fluctuations in the menstrual cycles.
Others: Studies show that prolonged use of antidepressants or low thyroid functioning might also play an important role in the development of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

In order to be diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, it’s important to note that the individual must have at least four episodes throughout the year. Additionally, people who experience episodes in two months are likely to meet the diagnostic criteria. Only a mental health professional can diagnose rapid-cycling bipolar disorder in individuals.

If you think you or your loved one might be struggling with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, keep track of symptoms by constantly checking:

Daily moods
Sleep Patterns
Stressors and life events

Coming forth to the treatment of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder can be treated with medications. Your mental health professional might team up with a physician to prescribe the right medication in order to treat or manage your symptoms. Below listed are some of the commonly prescribed medications treating rapid cycling bipolar disorder:

Atypical antipsychotics
Mood stabilizers

While taking the medications, it’s really important to strictly follow the medications. Consult with your physician or mental health professional before stopping or altering the doses. Other types of effective treatment for rapid-cycling bipolar disorder can be:

Electroconvulsive therapy

Self-Help Strategies for Managing Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Avoid substance use, alcohol consumption, or smoking while taking medications.
Seek the support of your loved ones or family members.
Create a crisis plan and share it with your loved ones.
Strictly follow routines (eating and sleeping specially).
In cases of self-harm or suicidal thoughts, refer to:

Note: In cases of suicidal thoughts, we request you to please contact: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. For support and assistance from a trained mental health advisor, call 988. For emergency situations, call 911

I hope this blog helps you understand everything you want to know about rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Comment down and share your views on the same or you can also write to us at Calm Sage.

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Thanks for reading!

The post What Is Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder? appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.

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