You may have heard of Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder.  You may have even heard of Hypomania and Cyclothymia as types of Bipolar Disorder – but what is this other type of Bipolar Disorder about which we commonly hear?

 

It's called Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder.

 

Is it a "real" type of Bipolar Disorder, though?  Well, that depends on what you call real.

 

Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) by the American Psychiatric Association along with the other types of Bipolar Disorder, but that does not make it a type of Bipolar Disorder itself.

 

 The truth is that Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder is NOT an actual type of Bipolar Disorder.  It is a sub-set of the disorder.

 

People who have Bipolar Disorder will usually only have a handful of bipolar episodes in their entire life. 

 

However, about 20% of people with Bipolar Disorder go through what’s called Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder.  While others may have only eight episodes during their whole life, these people may have four or more episodes in a single year!

 

In rare cases, known as Ultra Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder, people will change moods even within a 24-hour period, and may go back and forth so quickly between extreme of mood that there is no real noticeable normal mood present.

 

Currently researchers believe that any individual with Bipolar Disorder can go through a period of rapid-cycling and then return to their normal pattern of the disorder. The reason for the switch is not known yet, but researchers continue to conduct studies in hopes of finding more answers.

 

Although Rapid-Cycling Bipolar is real enough, it is not a real type of Bipolar Disorder – just a sub-set of the disorder.