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What is Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder?


When four or more episodes of illness occur within a 12-month period, the person is said to have bipolar disorder with rapid cycling. This form of the illness tends to be more resistant to treatment than non-rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

Some bipolar disorder recur regurlarly with intervals of only weeks or months between episodes. In the nineteenth century these regularly recurring disorders were designated folie circulaire (circular insanity) by the French psychiatrist falret (1854).

At present, the frequent recurrence of mood disturbance in bipolar patients is usually called rapid cycling disorder. A number of clinical features of rapid cycling disorder are important in management and prevention:

  • they occur more frequently in women;
  • concomitant hypothyroidism is common;
  • they can be triggered by antidepressant drug treatment;
  • lithium treatment is relatively ineffective.

Information on Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

According to the DSM-IV, the essential feature of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is the occurrence of four or more mood episodes during the previous 12 months. Rapid Cycling is a relatively new diagnosis, having been identified by psychiatrists and researchers shortly after lithium became available for use in bipolar disorder. 

The idea that rapid cycling bipolar disorder is a specific type of bipolar disorder has been all but dismissed.  Currently it is thought that any bipolar can "switch" to a rapid cycling pattern, but that in nearly all cases (as shown in a recent study) most return to their normal bipolar pattern in time.

Sex ratio in Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

Rapid Cycling occurs in approximately 10%-20% of individuals with bipolar disorders. Whereas in bipolar disorder in general the sex ratio is equal, women comprise 70%-90% of individuals with a rapid-cycling pattern.

Treatment for Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

It can be challenging to find an effective treatment for rapid cycling. Rapid-cycling bipolar dsiorder is not the only category of bipolar disease that tends to be refractory to treatment. Mixed dysphoric mania, for example, which is as prevalent as rapid-cycling, can also be difficult to treat.

Not all patients with either of these characteristics are necessarily resistant to lithium, but a high proportion of them are likely to be. Detail study of various treatment in Rapid cycling bipolar dsiorder.

Medication for Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

The lithium response rate for those with rapid cycling is only 20-40%. Antipsychotic medications find helpful in the treatment of rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Anticonvulsant medications are also effective in the treatment of lithium resistant rapid cycling and mixed states. Consult your doctor about your treatment plan and query.

Lamotrigine augmentation therapy and monotherapy appeared to have mood-stabilizing and antidepressant efficacy in the treatment of five rapid-cycling bipolar patients. The effect persisted for an average of 7.5 months.

The use of classical antidepressant drugs such as tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) in patients with bipolar disorder has been found to increase the incidence of rapid-cycling bipolar dsiorder.

In the early 1970s, publications began to appear suggesting that patients with more than four cycles of bipolar disorder per year did not respond very well to lithium. Rapid-cycling Bipolar dsiorder was therefore recognised as a lithium-resistant subgroup of bipolar disorder and alternative modes of treatment were tried.

According to research, Patients with bipolar disorder who develop a rapid-cycling pattern suffer substantial depressive morbidity and are at high risk for suicide attempts.

Alternative treatment for Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

Try out some alternative treatment for curing Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder. But be sure to discuss with your Doctor before starting any of the treatments. Detail information on alternative treatment for rapid cycling bipolar dsiorder.

Self Approach towards Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

Rapid cycling bipolar dsiorder is a serious illness, and you have to consult your Doctor before the start of any type of exercise or other physical activities. It is proven that exercise has fewer side effects. Study about role of exercise in Rapid cycling bipolar dsiorder.

Stay in touch with family, friends and community support. Find out the role of family and freinds in Rapid cycling bipolar dsiorder.

Try out some simple exercise for depression self help, hope you will find it helpful. Self help for Rapid cycling bipolar dsiorder.

Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder the essential feature of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is the occurrence of four or more mood episodes during the previous 12 months.



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