Rapid Cycling Cyclothymia


Bipolar disorder in general is something that many people have to deal with on a daily basis.  Bipolar not only affects the lives of the people that have it, but it also affects the lives of people that are around them.  Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is a form of bipolar that many people have had to learn to live with.  Check out how it works and how it affects people.

Who Has Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder?

The thing with bipolar disorder, including rapid cycling bipolar disorder is that anyone can develop it.  Currently, in the United States, about 6 million people suffer from it.  This number amounts to about 10-20% of the people that have bipolar disorder.  Generally, bipolar in general is diagnosed for people that are in their teens and early 20’s that is when the symptoms generally start to manifest themselves.

What is Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder?

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is different from just bipolar I or bipolar II.  This condition causes people to cycle between the times when they have major depressive disorder and hypomania.  Hypomania is a lesser form of mania, where it really isn’t an issue and the person is actually feeling pretty good, it is like a high or euphoria.  The major depressive disorder is then when the person goes into their depressive state and it is a very deep state of depression, this is a dangerous time.  However, what is important to remember with rapid cycling bipolar disorder is that the hypomania is just as dangerous as the major depression.

How is Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Treated?

For the most part, if someone suffers from rapid cycling bipolar disorder, they are generally treated more for their depression.  For the depression, they take an antidepressant so that they can reduce the time where they are in their states of major depression.  But, just an antidepressant by itself can trigger the manic episodes, so they must be balanced out.  For the balancing act, the patient is also given a mood stabilizer that is used for more treatment of the manic and hypomanic times.  These are medications that are used also for anti-seizure medications.  Otherwise, the patient may be put on an antipsychotic medication.  These mood stabilizers are generally taken all the time, even if the person is symptom free, while the antidepressants can be tapered off once the depression is under control.  Generally someone with rapid cycling bipolar disorder is going to take two or more medications on a daily basis.

In summary, rapid cycling bipolar disorder is something that is no fun to deal with, but if it is caught early and treated successfully, these people can lead normal lives.  If you know someone that suffers from it, or you suffer from it yourself, it is important to understand how important treatment is and know what the treatment options are.  Don’t let this disorder take over your life, fight back and treat it the way it should be, you’ll love having control over your mind once again.

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is a variant of the standard model of bipolar disorder. Though there are a number of similarities it is the differences between the two that make this form of bipolar disorder unique and sometimes hard to identify.

People experiencing rapid cycling bipolar disorder may be admitted to a psychiatric clinic and misdiagnosed as having borderline personality disorder, which has similar symptoms. However, in addition to the standard signs of bipolar disorder such as manic episodes and thoughts of suicide, violent and frequent mood swings are the hallmark of this form of bipolar disorder. The key to dealing with rapid cycling bipolar disorder is understanding the ways that it is similar to and different from standard bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder is often characterized by sudden mood swings, especially manic episodes and rapid cycling bipolar disorder is similar in this respect. Manic episodes can last for months at a time and can sometimes even seem like the person experiencing them is just having a happy time in their life. However, strange and reckless behaviors begin to emerge during manic episodes. Things like reckless spending, promiscuous sex and other risky behaviors during one of these episodes can tip a person off that something clinical is happening with their mental health. A sudden mood swing from incredibly happy to depressed and thoughts of suicide is another trait that both of these conditions share. At this point, admittance to a psychiatric clinic can be helpful.


The biggest difference between standard bipolar disorder and rapid cycling bipolar disorder is the frequency and nature of the mood swings that are experienced. A manic episode suddenly degenerating into depression and thoughts of suicide in a person experiencing bipolar disorder can be a sign that they have the rapid cycling form of bipolar disorder. Since the mood swings associated with this form of bipolar can be so frequent and sometimes violent psychiatric clinics may sometimes misdiagnose this condition as being borderline personality disorder. The frequency of manic episodes degenerating into depressive episodes can be as high as four or more in a twelve month period. While this may not seem terribly high it is much higher than standard bipolar disorder. Thankfully, suicide rates for those experiencing rapid cycling bipolar disorder is not higher.

Dealing With Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Once a proper diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar disorder has been given the process for dealing with the condition becomes much easier. It is, after all, easier to treat a condition when you know exactly what it is. For those around a person with this condition, being understanding during their manic episodes can be very helpful. For those experiencing the disorder, sometime admittance to a psychiatric clinic becomes necessary and is helpful in the disorder’s treatment. Thoughts of suicide during depressive episodes are not uncommon and should be taken seriously, no matter how confident someone may be in their mental state. Understanding the disorder and treating it properly can help people with rapid cycling bipolar disorder and their loved ones deal with their disorder in a healthy and constructive way.