There are millions of people suffering for manic-depressive illnesses or how DSM-5 now classifies it “Affective (Mood) Disorders“. Most known of these is a Bipolar Disorder, and one of the key methods to managing the disorder is being able to keep track of an individual’s mood on a regular basis. Some people keep track of their daily or weekly emotional ups and downs by using a calendar. Others try to keep track of how they are doing in their heads. At the next visit to the therapist, one of the first questions the patient will be asked is ‘How have you been feeling since our last visit?’ An accurate report of a patient’s mental state is vital to determining medication changes or other alterations in therapy. Fortunately there is a very easy and accurate way for individuals to monitor and record their moods as they are happening. For little to no cost, mood tracking applications are available for your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet. A few of my favorites are T2 Mood Tracker developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, Moody Me co-created by MedHelp and MoodTrack.com Private Diary developed by Matthew Windwer.
The T2 Mood Tracker application was originally created as a tool for members of the military to record and monitor their behavior changes, especially after returning home from combat deployments. However it is being used by service members and civilians alike because of the descriptive way the application allows users to record a particular mood in detail. For example, if a person is feeling ‘depressed’, they can further examine that feeling and record the levels of additional emotions related to the depression. A person may be feeling depressed, but it could be related to feeling lonely, tired, hopeless or unsafe. The app comes with six main emotional categories, each with ten sub-categories that can be rated on a sliding scale. New categories and related scales can be added by the user. In addition, custom reports using a specified start and end date can be created using any or all categories.
Moody Me is an easy application to track moods in a slightly different way than T2 Mood Tracker. Moody Me has seven main moods to choose from (Manic, Excellent, Good, Okay, Bad, Horrible, Depressed). The date and time is recorded automatically at the time the user’s current mood is entered into the application. At any time, the user may record emotions felt throughout the day such as anger, depression, fear, frustration or even euphoria. The symptoms related to the emotions and mood can be documented as well. The symptom list includes a wide range of responses to emotions such as changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating and many other emotions including suicidal thoughts. A comprehensive list of treatments and medications is included in the app for the user to record actions taken during the day as well as a list of common events that could have triggered a positive or negative incident. All moods and emotions along with the most prevalent mood for the day can be seen on the calendar screen. Icons and colors make it easy to see at a glance how a day, week or month is progressing for the user.
A third option to track moods on a smartphone or tablet is the MoodTrack.com Private Diary application. This application is simple to use and does not require a lot of input to capture a historical picture of mood variations. The interface is very straightforward. The user writes a short description of his or her mood (happy, tired, depressed), followed by a brief description of the circumstances related to the mood. Then the mood is given a rating of one to five, which determines where a mark is posted on the associated graph. This app would be a good choice for someone who doesn’t want to spend much time checking in and recording feelings, but still wants to document moods on a frequent basis. In addition, this app has the added feature of being able to connect with others who are also tracking their moods. A quick toggle from Private to Public and the user can read comments and offer support to others using the application.
All of the three applications described in this article do a good job allowing someone with a mood disorder to chart their daily frame of mind. Results can be reviewed privately or with a therapist.