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Understanding Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Rapid cycling may be a temporary experience for someone with bipolar disorder. Talk therapy and medication can help with management. SERENA HUS/Getty Images Rapid cycling…

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Rapid cycling may be a temporary experience for someone with bipolar disorder. Talk therapy and medication can help with management. SERENA HUS/Getty Images Rapid cycling is a feature of bipolar disorder in which episodes of mania, hypomania, or depression are more frequent. These episodes may appear unexpectedly and are mostly temporary.

About 5.7 million people in the United States live with bipolar disorder. It’s estimated that in a single year 5% to 33% of people with bipolar disorder are experiencing rapid cycling, and 26% to 43% experience it at some point in their lives.

Although researchers are just beginning to learn what might cause this condition, there are promising treatments on the horizon.

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Rapid cycling can happen with any kind of bipolar disorder. Someone has rapid cycling bipolar disorder when they experience at least four distinct mood episodes over a 12-month period.

Rapid cycling is a feature of bipolar disorder and not a stand-alone diagnosis. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) a clinician should specify if the person has experienced rapid cycling at the time of diagnosis.

A large 2020 study , citing older research from 2010 and 2015, explained that about one-third of people with bipolar disorder experience rapid cycling. Additionally: Rapid cycling was found more frequently in younger females with an early onset of bipolar disorder . The same study cited 2006 research that showed about 20% of those […]

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