Understanding Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

A diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is made when a person experiences four separate episodes of bipolar signs and symptoms, such as major depression mania, hypomania, or mixed symptoms within one year.

For one in every five people with bipolar disorder, they must deal with these even more complicated aspects of their condition. This subtype of the condition in which the patient cycles through ups and downs at a much faster pace.

Rapid cycling disorder complicates the strategy for treating bipolar, but with the right diagnosis and ongoing treatment, most people are able to manage their illness. Patient’s report that it’s really hard to gain self-awareness with this illness, but once you are at that point, you can feel it coming and you try to do something about it. This type of bipolar disorder is more common in women and in those whose first episodes were in childhood or adolescence.

Signs of rapid cycling bipolar disorder are:

  • Rapid talking: Even if the patient doesn’t notice it herself, people will tell the patient to slow down.
  • Catastrophic thinking: When simple frustrations during the day such as bad traffic or a flat tire, cause the patient to believe nothing will ever go right.
  • Apathy: The patient is generally energetic and engaged in their life. Now she lacks the motivation to get going, knowing she is at risk of an episode.
  • Distrusting medication: Patient begins to think her medication isn’t working and considers not taking it. The family needs to suggest that she call her doctor or therapist instead.

Because rapid cycling disorder can also include periods of depression, people have their own individual bipolar signs that could signal an episode. Some will experience classic signs of mania, others will have classic signs of depression, and yet another group goes through the dangerous mixed state of being depressed yet full of manic energy.

What to do if your relative has Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

  • Stay in treatment: Treating bipolar disorder is complicated for everyone involved. The patient may need to try several medications under doctor’s supervision.
  • Try cognitive behavioral behavior: Cognitive behavioral therapy assists the patient to learn how to identify and alter their thought patterns that signal or trigger their moods.
  • Keep a routine: Commitment to a healthy routine provides a sound foundation for most days. A therapist can assist in developing structure.

REF: Everyday Health

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