Bipolar Cycling

2013 Bipolar Update

Bipolar Cycling: Symptoms and treatment

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition in which its sufferers oscillate between cycles of two poles of mental instability, mania and depression. Bipolar cycling is one of the more serious and severe problems of bipolar disorders. It is regarded as a sub type of either Bipolar I or Bipolar II. Rapid bipolar cyling is when the patient's mood changes appear four times or more in one year, cycling from mania to depression. The change could be from one mood directly to the other or there could be a ‘normal’ period in between. In some extreme cases, there are patients who go through the cyclic episodes on a much more regular basis. This is known as ultra-rapid cycling.

A patients’ mental health is normally greatly affected by this disorder. Brain function is also greatly inhibited and anyone diagnosed with bipolar cycling is bound to be a challenge to deal with. About 15% of all bipolar disorder patients suffer from rapid cycling.


The major symptom exhibited by those suffering from bipolar cycling is the frequent extreme mood swings from depression to mania. Mania is characterized by increased energy and creativity, coupled with a feeling of euphoria. Depression is characterized by irritability, paranoia, disorganization and even suicidal tendencies. This mixed state may last for up to two weeks. This can happen several times a day, making the person difficult to relate to. The sense of right and wrong is also affected by the disorder and patients may possibly harm themselves and others unintentionally.

Some patients have periods of time when they do not exhibit any of the cycles related to the disorder. Such people are known as known as asymptomatic. However these are normally only brief periods before the cycles of mania and depression occur once again.


Getting a correct and accurate diagnosis is crucial in ensuring treatment is effective. This is done by consulting a professional mental health specialist who will carry out tests to confirm that the disorder is really bipolar cycling. It may not be possible to cure the disorder and the course of treatment is usually aimed at improving the course of the illness. Treatment of bipolar cycling disorder is a challenge. One reason is that the patients suffer from bouts of both depression and mania and the drugs used to treat the two conditions are different. It calls for a very delicate balance.

The usual treatment for the disorder is medication, though most drugs have been found to have unpleasant side effects, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The good news is that these conditions cease once the medication is stopped.

One medication that has shown great promise in recent times is Seroquel Antipsychotic. It has been found to be very helpful in treating cycling bipolar disorder. Monotherapy also appears to have mood stabilizing effects on bipolar patients. There may be times when psychiatrists are called in to assist in treatment.

Basically bipolar cycling is a blend of mania and depression, and this makes its treatment a very difficult process since the two conditions normally require different courses of treatment. It requires great patience from the patient, loved ones and even the health practitioner to identify the ideal drug and the ideal dose with minimal side effects. However, with the correct treatment and support individuals with any bipolar disorder can learn how to control their problem and proceed to live a normal life

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