Bipolar disorder rapid cycling

The patient suffering from bipolar disorder goes through 2 episodes of mental disturbance: Mania and depression. Bipolar disorder rapid cycling describes a pattern of their occurrence.

Manifestation of bipolar disorder

It is a chronic disease that lasts lifelong with the patient and it affects individuals from the same family.

The disease will manifest itself during adolescence and twenties in the form of alternating episodes of mania and depression.


The patient is impulsive, happy, optimistic, helpful, euphoric as well as productive and sexually active.

In intense cases, the patient may losses the ability to sleep. In addition, develops delusions or hallucinations.


On the contrary to mania, depressed patients will lose appetite with subsequent loss of weight.

His productivity is less, with no sexual desire, loss of self-esteem, and a sense of worthiness. Moreover, he may think about suicide or even try it.

The sleep pattern will be disturbed to extremes i.e.: insomnia and inability to sleep or increased sleeping hours to cover almost the whole day.

Bipolar disorder rapid cycling

When the patient experiences 4 cycles (or more) of mania and depression during a year, this is the bipolar disorder rapid cycling.

Most of the time, the patient will have repeated attacks of depression with fewer periods of mania or hypomania.

Bipolar disorder rapid recycling is not a separate diagnosis or a subtype, but it is a specific course of bipolar disease.

Cause and risk factors of bipolar rapid cycling

This phenomenon can happen at any time during the course of the bipolar disorder, it is secondary to incomplete control of the illness by medications. Furthermore, it can affect the patient at any time during the course of the disease.

Physicians find it difficult to determine the exact triggers of the rapid recycling but observations recommend the following causes:

  • Disturbance of the circadian rhythm and sleep disturbance.
  • Intake of antidepressant medications.
  • Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, head injury, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Decreased tolerance to stress.

It tends to affect adolescent patients rather than other age groups.

Women are at higher risk to have bipolar rapid recycling. This is secondary to hormonal alterations.

Bipolar rapid recycling puts the patient at a higher risk of suicidal attempts and self-harm.

Treatment of bipolar rapid recycling

It needs treatment of bipolar disorder efficiently in order to limit the attacks and control the manifestations. Though it is more difficult to be treated than bipolar disorder, the medications can help.

The medical treatment involves 3 categories of medications:

  • Antipsychotic medications.
  • Antidepressant medications.
  • Mood stabilizer.

Other methods of treatment are:

  • Psychotherapy.
  • Benzodiazepines or sleep-aiding medications.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy in severe uncontrollable cases.

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