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How often do people with bipolar disorder have mood episodes?

The frequency of episodes in people with bipolar disorder -- often called "cycling" -- is different for each person. People with bipolar disorder have periods of normal moods in between times of having depressive symptoms, manic symptoms, or the combination.

Over the course of a person's life, "episodes" of mood symptoms can occur every few years or as frequently as mood shifts that cycle throughout the day. A depressive episode and a manic episode can also occur at the same time. This is called a "mixed episode." These are particularly uncomfortable and severe.

For a few weeks before an episode, you might notice small changes in your mood or behavior. If you find ways to manage these, you can help prevent the episode. Warning signs include subtle shifts in your mood, sleep patterns, or the way you deal with people. Family or friends might notice these symptoms earlier than you do. Enlist their help in spotting them so you can work to avoid a relapse.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.