Bipolar Disorder Articles and Stories - http://www.bipolarcentral.com/articles
When Does Bipolar Rapid Cycling Occur?
http://www.bipolarcentral.com/articles/articles-775-1-When-Does-Bipolar-Rapid-Cycling-Occur.html
Bipolar Central

 
By Bipolar Central
Published on 03/19/2010
 

A bipolar disorder is a manifestation of a malfunction of one key region of the brain.  When there is an external circumstance that triggers these defective regions of the brain, the person behaves abnormally.  The person begins to show different phases of mood swings between mania and depression. So, this cycle of mood episodes is called bipolar rapid cycling by experts.


A bipolar disorder is a manifestation of a malfunction of one key region of the brain.  When there is an external circumstance that triggers these defective regions of the brain, the person behaves abnormally.  The person begins to show different phases of mood swings between mania and depression. So, this cycle of mood episodes is called bipolar rapid cycling by experts.

Officially, rapid cycling consists of different patterns of cycling. The illness manifests as alternate cycles of mania and depression but the period and pattern of occurrence is unpredictable.  It can be further influenced by other external factors such alcohol abuse, substance abuse, stress factors or medical prescriptions for other illness. Bipolar rapid cycling is defined as a cycle if it has distinct episodes of more than four depressions and mania or hypomania attacks. There is a school of thought which says that between these two stages, there are periods of normal behavior or normal episodes.   

Therefore, in bipolar rapid cycling, the changes between episodes are very rapid, fast paced and accelerated but the normal period would separate the mood changes.  This is the definition of a simple rapid cycle.  There are several more complicated types of rapid cycles. In bipolar terminology, certain terms are used synonymously leading to confusion about the complexities. 

For example, if a patient passes from a manic or depressed episode directly to the other pole without a normal period, it is termed a ‘switch’.  Such a condition is considered far worse than the normal rapid cycle. 

Sometimes in bipolar rapid cycling,  the first cycle could occur in January and maybe the second phase around March without the normal period.  Or you could see a normal period from March through September and undergo an episode in November and two rapid switches in December and January. Hence, the definition of the rapid cycle varies with the period during which the cycle occurs. There is too much confusion with the classification terminology of bipolar rapid cycling.

There are instances when a person could go from an episode of depression directly to mania and display a normal mood episode. Here the ‘switch’ or ‘biphasic’ cycling is observed. “Multiphasic’ occurs when the episodes move from depression directly to mania and then directly to depression.  Here, two ‘switch’ phases occur and cause even greater concern than the simple or single cycle.  Another likely stage to occur is called the continuous cycling where there is no normal period observed.  The most complex of all the bipolar rapid cycling phases seems to be the ultra-rapid cycles and ultra-rapid-rapid cycles where the episodes could be spread over the whole day.

Reference

http://www.iupui.edu/~bipolar/