(How to) Track Your Mood in Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is considered an affective disorder or “mood” disorder and consists of extremely depressed moods, known as depressions, and extremely elevated moods, known as manias or hypomanias. However, it is not always easy to identify the specifics of each mood and, indeed, there are even mixed moods in bipolar disorder where depressed and manic or hypomanic symptoms appear at the same time. For this reason, tracking your mood on a daily basis can help manage bipolar moods and even predict future relapses.
1. Choose a way to track your mood.
Mood tracking can be done on your phone, on the computer or even by a paper and pencil. Examples of mood tracking websites include:
· The Mood Journal from HealthyPlace.com
· Mood and medication charting from MoodTracker.com
· Track your Mood from MedHelp
· Moodscope from MoodScope.com, which also integrates sharing your mood with others
There are also quite a few mood trackers available for your phone. Examples include:
· Mood Panda – by Mood Panda, available on Android, iPhone and the desktop
· eMoods – by eMoodTracker.com, available on Android
· Mood 24/7 – by Remedy Mental Health, sends text messages to you asking about your mood
· T2 Mood Tracker – by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, available on Android and iPhone
Pen and paper mood trackers include examples like:
· A printable mood tracker is available by The Center for Quality Assessment and Improvement in Mental Health.
· A medication, lifestyle and mood chart is available by the Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance
· A bipolar mood scale and a bipolar mood diary are available from Bipolar UK.
The type of mood tracking you choose will be based on what you have available (such as a computer) and what system tracks the parts of your mood that you’re interested in (see below).
2. Choose what parts of your mood you want to track.
Obviously, you want to track your mood, but moods can be tracked in various ways. For example, you could simply rate your mood 1-10, where one is the worst mood and 10 is the best. However, this isn’t a very granular approach. A better way to track your mood is to track components of a mood. For example, you might want to track:
· Ability to feel pleasure
· Stress level
3. Choose other lifestyle factors to track.
The power of mood tracking is being able to see patterns in your moods based on what is going on around you. In other to make this work, you need to record the events and factors in your life that may affect your mood, such as:
· Unsafe behaviors
· Drinking/drug use
· Amount of sleep
· Quality of diet
· Social interaction
4. Customize the mood tracker to track anything that’s missing.
Most mood trackers will only track part of what you want to know but many can be customized. Customize the mood tracker to track everything in which you are interested.
5. Set an alarm to remind you to track your mood each day.
Mood trackers can’t work if you don’t use them. Use an alarm to help remind you to fill them in.
6. Track your mood.
Track your mood for at least 1-6 months to see patterns.
7. Use graphs, charts and reviewing of the tracked data to find patterns.
Most mood trackers output your information in charts and graphs. Use these tools to look for patterns in your mood and what was happening at the time of that mood switch.
8. Share this information with your doctor and/or therapist.
This information can help you manage your own symptoms but it can also give your healthcare professionals insight into your illness that can help them manage treatment more effectively.
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and mental health advocate from British Columbia, Canada. She contributes her content to Canadian Pharmacy King and elsewhere on bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. http://www.canadianpharmacyking.com