Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder (RCBD) is defined by the experience of four or more extreme mood episodes within a year, according to a study published in the journal Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy.

These can include any combination of the following types of episodes:

  • Manic
  • Hypomanic
  • Depressive
  • Mixed

While for some patients this can translate into multiple episodes each week – or even in a single day – for others, it means episodes may last a few weeks or longer with a week or more in between.

Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder most often occurs in those who first began to experience bipolar symptoms at a young age. It is also more prevalent among those patients who struggle with severe bipolar disorder as compared to those living with milder forms, like Cyclothymia.

Though there is some disagreement in the medical community as to whether or not rapid-cycling bipolar disorder is a diagnosis that should stand alone or be considered to be an issue that occurs as part of a bipolar disorder diagnosis, it is clear that the issue can be addressed effectively through comprehensive rehabilitation and treatment.

Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder: Stats and Facts

A review of various studies done on rapid-cycling bipolar disorder published in the journal The Psychiatric Clinics of North America found the following to be true:

  • Higher rates of RCBD occur in women than in men.
  • Hyperthyroidism and anti-depressant treatment have both been identified as possible risk factors for RCBD.
  • There has not been any difference in suicide rates identified among RCBD patients as compared to patients who are diagnosed with other forms of bipolar disorder.
  • Lithium may not be as effective of a choice in medication treatment for RCBD patients as compared to patients diagnosed with other types of bipolar disorder.
  • Some studies indicate that rapid cycling of mood episodes is not a disorder unto itself but a phase experienced by those living with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder.

Substance Abuse and RCBD

Bipolar disorder in any form is a hugely disruptive mental health disorder, and many patients feel overwhelmed by the symptoms. As a result, they may turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage their frustration, irritation, and emotional difficulties related to the hardships caused by the disorder.

Unfortunately, substance abuse not only doesn’t help mitigate the effects of RCBD symptoms but often makes them worse – and creates a host of new, problematic symptoms of its own at the same time. Patients often struggle with increased difficulties at home, at work, among peers, and in their abilities to manage their own lives while also taking daily risks with their health and safety.

Treatment for Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder and Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Though there is no cure for rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, a number of different therapeutic and pharmacological options have proven to be effective in its treatment. In the same way, drug and alcohol abuse is chronic in nature but can be treated with intensive rehabilitation and long-term psychotherapeutic support. When both disorders are an issue, patients are encouraged to choose a rehabilitation program that can aggressively treat both problems at the same time, allowing them to make sustainable progress in healing across both fronts.

Contact us now at the phone number listed above to learn more about your loved one’s options in Dual Diagnosis treatment and recovery. We’re here to assist you.

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