Because it is one of the most serious forms of bipolar disorder the prognosis for anyone afflicted with rapid cycling bipolar disorder is not always good. The mental health and brain function of people with this condition is highly compromised because of the rate at which they go from mania to depression and back again. Treating this condition is also difficult.
In order to make a rapid cycling diagnosis the patient will have to meet the standards set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders IV-TR which states that the patient must have at least four episodes of depression and mania/hypomania in a one year period.
Some people with rapid cycling bipolar disorder are asymptomatic, meaning they have periods when they exhibit neither of the cycles associated with this disorder. This does not diminish their need to effectively deal with their condition because when the mania and depression do hit it can be severe enough to be life threatening.
The more troubling side of this disorder is those who have little to no time between normalcy and a depressive or manic episode. Without proper mental health help people who suffer from this extreme can be a danger to themselves and others.
It is also possible that those who suffer from rapid cycling bipolar disorder will also partake in risky behavior. Drug and alcohol abuse is not out of the question particularly for those who like to self medicate. This can actually make the symptoms much worse and cause the cycling between the two extremes to happen at an even faster pace.