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vegancupcake

Mood Tracking and Mini-Mood Cycles

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New to these forums and happy to find such a supportive community! I apologize if this post is a bit long.

I was officially diagnosed with bipolar II by my psychiatrist two months ago, and I’ve only recently started tracking my moods. In my life, I have had a total of two depressive episodes and one hypomanic episode that I would consider significant. The depressive episodes lasted months, the hypomanic episode lasted about two weeks. However, since tracking my moods, I’ve noticed I have these little mini mood cycles within the supposed “normal” mood episode I’m experiencing now. I’ll have several days that mimic a mild to moderate depressive episode, followed by several days that mimic a euphoric hypomanic episode (however I can still sleep full nights, unlike my previous two week episode). This all inevitably falls back into several more days where I feel moderately depressed again. All of this, of course, occurs with no real outside influence.

Long story short, is it common to have baby mini less severe mood cycles between actual full blown episodes? Or does this qualify as rapid cycling? Not that labels matter, I’m just genuinely curious if I'm a special snowflake.

Thanks!

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Rapid cycling means having 4 or more episodes per year. That's all.

I am unclear as to what you mean when you are describing "mini-episodes." They sound like it could just be that you are having good days and bad days. Are these episodes disabling in any way?

Have you compared them to the criteria for mania and depression set out by the DSM IV?

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You're right, I was unclear. Whenever I say mini-episode, I really mean short. I will have three days where I can't stop crying, eating, and sleeping because I feel absolutely awful. I've been missing work, so I'd say it's disabling. But it'll abruptly end. And then I'll have one day where I feel just like I did when I was hypomanic, except I have no issues sleeping. Which could arguably mean that it wasn't hypomania at all, just a single day where my mood was literally euphoric. Still, it's a stark contrast to the previous day where I could hardly move. The next day I'll feel awful and incredibly sad again. It feels like I'm in the middle of a bad depressive episode sprinkled with some extra-happy and productive days.

My point is that I've had depressive and hypomanic episodes of appropriate length and intensity to support my bipolar diagnosis. I was wondering if small blips of episodes (that essentially meet criteria other than length) in between full blown episodes could be part of this illness. Or if I'm currently in a depressive episode with some really good days thrown in there. I know what my normal feels like, and I don't feel normal. And yes, the constant depression is taking a toll on my daily life.

I've started lamictal and I'm hoping it will prevent future episodes as well as these current weird ones. Thanks for your reply, by the way.

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While its certainly possible to have ultradian cycling, it's pretty rare. We only have a few people here who are ultradian cyclers, and we tend to make up the sickest of the sick.

Part of being freshly dx'd means that you now suddenly scrutinize every aspect of your behavior. You constantly question everything and wonder if you are about ready to go into a mood episode. But once you become more comfortable with your dx, and your treatment, you will start to recognize the difference between feelings and moods. You will realize that you have feelings of sadness or happiness for a day or three, but that your overall mood is still baseline.

An episode is generally defined as occurring for a period of one week with consistent same feelings each and every day. This doesn't mean you have to suffer with an episode for a week before seeking assistance from your pdoc, it just defines the definition of an episode.

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Thank you so much for your reply, it really helped. The fact that the symptoms of bipolar disorder are drawn out over many months or years makes it difficult for me to feel comfortable recognizing what an episode feels like. Once episodes end, I think I forget their intensity. After typing out and organizing my thoughts on here, I do currently think I'm falling into another depressive episode. I think the happy days were likely just residual from my normal mood. It's been two and a half weeks since my last happy day. I've started meds appropriate for my diagnosis and I have a good therapist, so I should be fine. 

Edited by vegancupcake

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I'd like to add, you *are* a special snowflake, regardless!! AND you have a lot of company. :)

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Guest Vapourware

We do, however, have a herd of magical unicorns.

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I have little mood fluctuations only I notice, on the same cycle I would normally have when I am falling apart, only they are so mild that you wouldn't even treat them, just keep an eye on them.

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Sometimes I experience this, too, where while I am in the 'normal' range I still have very tiny and mild fluctuations into a depressive episode for maybe 2-3 days, and then maybe one good day... followed by some more normal. I think that is normal though. You're right, they are kind of like mini episodes! But aren't full blown ones. It might be part of the phenomenon that I like to call "bipolar hangover"... when you aren't in an episode any longer but you have a few breakthrough symtpoms hanging on. My psychiatrist confirmed that this is a real thing. I forget what he called it, but I like 'bipolar hangover'. ;-)

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We do, however, have a herd of magical unicorns.

haha. Magical unicorns, you say? Do tell, do tell!

To the OP: No one is a special snowflake or puddle. We're all just different.

Edited by Wonderful.Cheese

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