Orange County Christian Counseling
Rapid cycling disorder or rapid cycling bipolar disorder is a term that is used to describe a pattern of distinct episodes in bipolar disorder. It is not a separate diagnosis but rather a subtype of bipolar disorder.It is characterized by individuals experiencing episodes of mania, hypomania, or depression four or more times in a year. To give context, people with bipolar usually experience one or two episodes a year. This means that people with rapid cycling disorder experience the symptoms of bipolar much more frequently.
Not everyone who has bipolar will experience rapid cycling. It has however been found to be more common in female patients. It can occur in individuals who have been diagnosed with any of the three types of bipolar namely bipolar 1, bipolar 2, or cyclothymia.
Rapid cycling disorder is mostly experienced as a temporary state, and it does not follow any type of regular cycle. It can be experienced in a matter of hours, days, or months. When four or more mood episodes happen within a month, this is called ultra-cycling.
What causes rapid cycling disorder?
Although it has been difficult to fully understand the cause of rapid cycling disorder, certain theories have been put forward to try and explain its onset. Below are some suggestions:
Kindling. This is when perceived or actual stress associated with certain life events can trigger cycling. Events like the loss of a loved one, life-threatening health diagnoses, or trauma, whether real or anticipated can result in rapid cycling. Kindling also affects sleep patterns which have a huge effect on mood.
Hormonal changes. Bipolar is a mood disorder. It stands to reason that at any point where mood is affected by hormonal changes, it would have a tremendous effect. Hormonal fluctuations in women at different stages like during pregnancy, menopause, or menstrual cycle can trigger rapid cycling in individuals who already have been diagnosed with bipolar.
Imbalance in Neurochemicals – Neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are essential for our mood and general well-being. Any imbalance in any of this leaves those struggling with bipolar at a much higher risk of developing rapid cycling.
Medication. Some medications, especially anti-depressants and or stimulants if not paired with the right mood stabilizers can also increase the possibility of rapid cycling.
Substance abuse. Rapid cycling can be potentially triggered by using alcohol and substances for people struggling with bipolar as those influence mood.
Hypothyroidism. This is when the thyroid is underfunding and not producing enough hormone for the brain, this will, in turn, affect mood.
Treatment for rapid cycling disorder.
Rapid cycling disorder is a disrupter to people’s normal functioning. These heightened episodes can make it hard to function as some people usually need to be hospitalized to get symptoms under control. Because of this, the quality of life can be compromised. This is why it’s important to know that there are treatment options that are available to help those who are struggling.
Treatment options will depend largely on the type of bipolar that has been diagnosed. That being said, the same treatment plans can be reviewed and considered. Medication used alongside talk therapy and group support can be a huge help for those struggling with rapid cycling disorder.
This way, they have the benefit of getting the right medication to manage their moods, and get a professional perspective into their condition, and skills and tools to cope. The support groups are important for peer support. It can be hard living with bipolar and having others who understand and can share experiences can be motivating and comforting.
We can assist.
Living with bipolar can be difficult. We are here to let you know that treatment and support is available. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our offices. We have qualified Therapists and counselors ready to help you understand your condition more and come up with a personalized treatment plan.
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