Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

The term rapid cycling can be very confusing. I recently asked my co-author Dr. John Preston for a clear explanation:

Rapid cycling is at least four discrete episodes during a 12 month period (these can be mania, hypomania, or depression). The term ultra-rapid cycling is not precisely defined but many refer to this as having possibly monthly cycles (e.g. 12 per year)….untradian cycling is where there are not really discrete manic or depressive episodes, but the person is extremely emotionally labile, with chaotic and intense mood changes that occur every day or several times during a day. One way to describe it is that they experience intense emotional instability….some mood shifts are in response to stressful events (e.g. an argument with a friend), but some are unprovoked (seem to come out of the blue and not associated with a specific trigger)

**  Thanks John.

Do you have rapid cycling? If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor. This is important information as it can affect the drugs you take and how you deal with triggers. My book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder talks about the different types of bipolar disorder diagnoses and how they relate to rapid cycling. I have ultradian rapid cycling, which is why I have to be so very careful with triggers. I do have very distinct depression and mania episodes. This shows you how the terms can describe part of your diagnosis, but not see the whole picture. Ultradian is a new term that isn’t used much. The term ultra-rapid cycling is more common. It’s very important that you know if you have bipolar one or bipolar two and if rapid cycling is part of your diagnosis.


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