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Rapid Cycling

According to the DSM-IV-TR, if a person with Bipolar Disorder experiences 4 or more episodes of mood disturbances (ie. Major Depressive Disorder, Hypomanic, Manic or Mixed Episodes) within a 1 year period, they are considered to be in a state of Rapid Cycling.  The episodes need to be separated by periods of two months or more where the individual is feeling well, unless one episode switches to another of opposite polarity.

Ultra-rapid cycling is when a person experiences switches in bipolar mood states over the course of a few days or a few weeks. This term is not described in the DSM-IV-TR, but many experts consider it an important clinical phenomenon [ref]. There is also something called Ultradian cycling, where several mood switches can occur within the same 24 hour period [ref], though this may not be very different from a Mixed Episode.

 

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Mixed Episode

Diagnosis