Objectives: Rapid cycling mood disorder is an important clinical phenomenon. The concept of rapid cycling has evolved since it was first described in 1974. The purpose of this review is to summarise current diagnostic criteria, postulated risk factors and suggested management strategies.
Method: A Medline and Psych-Lit computerised literature search was supplemented by tracing back through the references from existing review work.
Results: Over 80 papers were identified which discussed diagnosis and management of rapid cycling.
Conclusions: DSM-IV provides a useful but narrow definition of rapid cycling. Standard treatment of affective disorder may exacerbate rapid cycling. If a rapid cycling course develops, discontinuation of antidepressants and use of mood stabilisers is recommended.