Common Patterns in Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a difficult disorder to define, standardize, and treat. What works for one individual could exacerbate symptoms in another, because the treatment, frequency, and intensity of episodes are often unique in each case.

That’s not to say there aren’t any trends or patterns. Over the years, intensive and focused research has been conducted on bipolar disorder and bipolar depression. While a “cure” has not yet been discovered, doctors and therapists have learned valuable information on common triggers, factors, and types of episodes.

Common Triggers of Bipolar Episodes


When mood swings are rapid and severe enough, they can last for weeks to months at a time. This can be stressful, emotionally scarring, and physically endangering. While it’s nearly impossible to prevent episodes in certain individuals, it may be helpful to avoid these common triggers:

  • Lack of Sleep. Changes in sleeping patterns or a lack of sleep is one major driving force behind some cases of bipolar disorder. By developing sleeping rhythms and familiar routines, you can eliminate the likelihood of sleep-related triggers causing a mood swing.
  • Substance Abuse. While many people mistakenly believe drug or alcohol abuse can cause bipolar disorder, it does set off episodes or mood swings. People with bipolar disorder are more responsive to the effects of these substances, and usage may result in manic or depressive episodes.
  • Arguments. Major arguments or disagreements frequently trigger episodes. While you can’t realistically live life without confrontation, it’s best to keep these interactions to a minimum.
  • Seasonal Changes. Reports suggest one in five individuals with bipolar disorder experience mood swings or episodes when there are changes in the weather or season. While not much can be done about this, it’s at least valuable information to keep in mind.

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Patterns of Bipolar Disorder


Some common patterns include the following:

  • Rapid Cycling. Rapid cycling involves three or more episodes per year. These episodes are usually serious in nature and occur in 10 to 20 percent of the bipolar population.
  • Daily Pattern. During a depression swing, many people go through familiar routines. This usually involves certain times of the day when things are better or worse. When in a manic state, things may remain more constant throughout the episode.

Getting Help


When it becomes too much to handle on your own, you may want to consider bipolar disorder treatment centers. These places offer structured, professional treatment plans to help prevent future episodes and guide you through current issues. For more information, contact Bridges to Recovery.