Objective: Rapid cycling bipolar disorder presents a significant challenge with respect to treatment. The cyclical nature of bipolar disorder has been well recognised for over a century, and following Dunner and Fieve's landmark paper in 1974, investigators have increasingly turned their attention to issues such as the definition of rapid cycling, demographic characterisation, treatment response and pharmacologic intervention.
Methods: A literature search using Medline was performed, and selected articles which consider important developments in the definition, demographics and course of rapid cycling are reviewed. In addition, a systematic review of the literature published during the past 5 years (1999–2004) relating to treatment was conducted.
Results: Relevant articles are reviewed.
Conclusions: This review highlights the important developments in our understanding of rapid cycling bipolar disorder, and focuses particularly on the recent literature regarding treatment.