Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Bipolar Disorder Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

(continued)

How Is Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Treated? continued...

Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft have not been shown to treat the depression symptoms of rapid cycling bipolar disorder, and may even increase the frequency of depressive recurrences over time. Many experts therefore advise against the use of antidepressants (especially long term) in bipolar patients with rapid cycling.

Mood-stabilizing drugs -- such as lithium  Depakote, Tegretol or Lamictal -- are the core treatments of rapid cycling.  Often, a single mood stabilizer is ineffective at controlling episode recurrences, resulting in a need for combinations of mood stabilizers.  Several antipsychotic medicines such as Zyprexa or Seroquel also have been studies in rapid cycling and are used as part of a treatment regimen, regardless of the presence or absence of psychosis (delusions and hallucinations). 

Treatment with mood stabilizers is usually continued even when a person is symptom-free. This helps prevent rapid cycling. Antidepressants, if and when used, are generally tapered as soon as depression is under control.

What Are the Risks of Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder?

The most serious risk of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is suicide. People with bipolar disorder are 10 times to 20 times more likely to commit suicide than people without bipolar disorder. Tragically, 8% to 20% of people with bipolar disorder eventually lose their lives to suicide.

People with rapid cycling bipolar disorder are probably at even higher risk for suicide than those with nonrapid cycling bipolar disorder. They are hospitalized more often, and their symptoms are usually more difficult to control long term.

Treatment reduces the likelihood of serious depression and suicide. Lithium in particular, taken long term, reduces the risk.

People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for substance abuse. Nearly 60% of people with bipolar disorder abuse drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse is associated with more severe or poorly controlled bipolar disorder.

1|2

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 14, 2012
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

bipolar overview slideshow
Article
brain food
SLIDESHOW
 
Bipolar or Schizophrenia
Article
Woman lost in thought at the beach
Article
 
Feeling Ups and Downs
HEALTH CHECK
Foods to Avoid
Article
 
Anger And Depression
Video
Bipolar or Schizo
Video
 
Women and Bipolar
Article
Bipolar Symptoms
VIDEO
 
What is Mania
Article
MRI of a human brain
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections