In recent weeks I have been writing about how apps can help patients better manage their health conditions whatever they may be. If you are still unfamiliar with the world of apps don't feel bad. I come from a time when we listened to music on a record player, looked up books in the library using card catalogs, and had only four channels to choose from in order to watch TV. I was even around when Pong was first introduced as the technological innovation of the time. We have come very far from those days when a simulated table tennis game was considered new and exciting. As our technology has advanced so has the infiltration of mobile devices to our mainstream culture. People are using mobile devices such as iPhones, iPods, and iPads to do everything from finding a recipe for tonight's dinner to planning a vacation. How is this done? Through the use of apps which is shorthand for software applications. Apps are being created everyday for a wide variety of purposes from gaming to health management.
In this post I am going to discuss how apps can help you to better manage your depression. Yet I want to preface any information I provide with a couple of important reminders. An app cannot replace your therapist, doctor, or other medical care. An app is simply an extra resource, or tool, to use for purposes such as tracking your mood. I cannot vouch for the quality or functionality of any of the apps I describe in my posts. In downloading or purchasing any app, the general warning of "buyers beware" is applicable. Do your homework and read about the app you are thinking of choosing before downloading. This goes for reading the fine print about such things as privacy and how the information you provide in using the app will be used.
How Mood Tracking Apps Can Help You to Manage Your Depression
There are a growing number of mental health apps on the market for anything from teaching you how to do deep breathing exercises to control anxiety to mood tracking apps to record how you are feeling every day. I have personally found that mood tracking apps can help in the quest for mental wellness. By taking daily data you are taking depression out of the subjective zone and creating a more objective record of your symptoms. Please note that you do not need an app to record data about your depression. You can use a notebook or calendar just as well. But what an app does is to make the process a lot easier, less time consuming, and provides a more efficient way to share the information with your doctor.
Here are some other reasons why a mood tracker app may be of benefit to depression sufferers:
- You can more readily identify patterns to your depression such as how long you tend to feel depressed before your mood begins to lift.
- If you track your moods you may begin to identify triggers which cause your mood to plummet.
- Tracking your mood can help to evaluate the effectiveness of whatever depression treatment you are currently using including medication or therapy. You can better assess what is and what is not working in alleviating your depression symptoms.
- A mood tracking app will usually provide a chart or graph of your moods. You can get an instant visual of how you are doing.
- Many mood tracking apps will make it easy to share the data with your doctor who can then use this information to better treat you.
- Seeing that your mood does lift on some days can be psychologically motivating. You can visibly see your progress.
- Using a mood tracker app can provide an early warning system for depression. For example, if your mood falls below a certain level for so many consecutive days you may decide that this is a sign to take preventive action in finding support or talking to your therapist about treatment options.
Chris Hall, who is Health Central's Director of Clinical Platforms, has asked me to share information about our Mood 24/7 Free Text Message Mood Tracker with our members. How it works is you sign up to receive a daily text message at the time you designate. You will then be prompted to rate your average daily mood on a scale of 1-10. Your data will appear as a graph so you can see the pattern of your mood over time. You can also easily share this information with your doctor or therapist if you so choose.
In addition, Chris has created a visual of holiday depression of our 24/7 Mood Tracker users from aggregated anonymized data. Mind you that this is not any official study but merely a graph representing the average daily mood ratings of Mood24/7 users from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve 2010.
If you have any questions regarding our Mood24/7 tool please contact Chris Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now we would love to hear from you! Do you use apps? Do you think that using a mood tracker app could help you to better understand your depression? Or are there reasons why you would be hesitant to embrace this new technology? Let us know your thoughts and opinions. What you think is very important to us.