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How Often Do People with Bipolar Disorder Cycle?

By Kimberly Read

Updated April 16, 2014

Question: How Often Do People with Bipolar Disorder Cycle?
Answer: A member of our Bipolar Disorder Forum community asked, "How often do people with BP cycle?" (Read the full post.)

A cycle is the period of time an individual takes to go through one episode of mania and one of depression (or hypomania and depression). As for how often these cycles occur, there is, unfortunately, no definitive answer. The frequency and duration of cycles are as varied as the individuals who have them. A study in 1992 found that 35% of people with bipolar disorder had only one cycle in a 5-year period, while 1% of the same group went through a complete cycle about every 3 months (Coryell et al). The phrase rapid cycling is tagged to the diagnosis of those who have four or more cycles in a 12-month period.

Other members of our Forum share their experiences:

  • from Penneer: "I can cycle several times in one day."
  • from Jackie: "I have had depressions that last literally just hours. I have had periods of 'feeling on top of the world' the same way."
  • from Ozzlou: "I've been in that depressed state for almost a year now."
  • from Wayne: "The way my condition is termed is 'mostly manic.' Over the years, the depressions got longer, but less severe."

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