Effects of Rapid Cycling
I was a loose cannon and danger to myself and my personal and professional relationships. I had the power to destroy anything I touched and it was completely out of my control.
Spotting Signs and Symptoms
The only way I can spot when rapid cycling is coming on is through mood charts, which were recommended by my psychiatrist. The highs and lows were so obvious they were impossible to ignore.
If I spot a rapid cycling pattern emerging I report it to a professional to aid prevention. It is important to talk to them about your feelings and thoughts and I would recommend taking a family member or friend who can back up your out-of-character behavior.
Treatment for Rapid Cycling Bipolar
Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are the usual treatment and are 20 to 40 percent effective in rapid cycling cases. Some antipsychotics work, but medication is all very dependent upon your psychiatric treatment plan.
It is commonly reported that antidepressants can provoke rapid cycling, which happened to me. We often report only our depressive symptoms so people with bipolar are often diagnosed with depression initially.
It is so important to report any symptoms if you think, feel or behave differently to your usual self. Rapid cycling bipolar is destructive and has an aggressive onset that can become very difficult to treat. If we spot the signs earlier we can get help sooner.
What Helped Me?
The following helped me when confronting my rapid cycling bipolar:
- Reporting symptoms to a doctor and/or psychiatrist.
- Going back to basics: implementing a proper sleep routine, drinking lots of water, eating regularly, and taking medication properly.
- Recognizing that there are many triggers in life I am vulnerable to.
- Monitoring moods to avoid important things when my behavior could have significant impact.
- Avoiding overstimulation: social situations, loud music and big crowds.
- Keeping my hands busy, either by painting my nails or going for a walk, to avoid exacerbating manic symptoms .
- Educating those around me and requesting their patience while I get well.
- Staying hopeful and continually reminding myself to ride each mood out, ideally in safe environments where I am accepted and understood.
It is easy to try and control the rapid cycling yourself through alcohol and drugs, whether they are recreational or prescription — I’ve tried. The short-term gain is nothing compared to the long-term devastation.
It is really important not to push yourself during rapid cycling and get treatment immediately. I have increasingly more stable periods and I know what to expect now so can spot any signs or symptoms earlier. Ultimately, I do my best to prevent rapid cycling episodes with personal and professional support.