Have you ever suspected that there was a pattern to your moods but you couldn't quite pinpoint what was going on? Do you ever wonder if your mood can be altered by a change in your diet or exercise program? Are you trying a new supplement and wonder if it has any effect on your mood? Are you a woman who wonders if your moods correlate with your menstrual cycle? Are you taking a new antidepressant and want to determine the effectiveness of this medication change? There are ways to answer all of these questions and more if you track your mood.
It may seem like a cumbersome ordeal to take data about your moods but it can give you some very valuable information. Instead of relying on your memory, you will have an objective record which you can analyze and look for patterns over time.
Here are some of the ways tracking or charting your moods can help you:
- In keeping track of your moods, you will become more aware of the triggers which maintain your depression.
- Some people find that the time of day is important to how they feel. For example, some depression sufferers report feeling the most depressed in the mornings. In charting your moods you may be able to pinpoint those times of day when you feel the worst and the best. Giving this objective data to your doctor or therapist, may give them some information to hypothesize about the possible causes for these fluctuations.
- If you have Bipolar Disorder, tracking your moods may especially be important, so that you can more accurately predict when you may change over to feeling depressed or manic. You can look at your data to see the warning signs of an impending change in mood and then take preventive measures so that things don't get so bad.
- Charting your moods can provide concrete evidence that a particular treatment is working or not.
- The greater self awareness you gain in recording your moods can make you feel more in control and allows you to make logical decisions about your treatment.
There are many ways you can track or record your moods. We do this informally each week during our Weekly Wrap Up when I ask you all to rate your week. Health Central also has a tool you can use called Mood 24/7 to track your moods from day to day. The way it works is you sign up and then you will receive a text message to rate how you feel. After you rate your mood, it will be recorded so you can view your mood changes over time. If you should so desire, you can then share that information with your therapist or doctor.
In addition, there are many mood charts, data sheets, and forms you can find on-line to help you.
Here are just some of the various mood charts that I have found:
- The Massachusetts Bipolar Clinic and Research Program has a mood chart specifically designed for recording medications and treatments as well as depression and elevated moods. You can probably modify this chart to meet your individual needs.
The National Institute of Mental Health also provides a blank chart so that you can record the highs and lows of your mood and also your anxiety and irritability levels.
The Black Dog Institute is another resource for a printable depression chart. This one is very simple and easy to use.
- If you have a child who is affected by a mood disorder there are also many charts and data sheets on-line to help you keep track of their behaviors and moods. On this free printable behavior charts website they have everything from anger management data sheets to visual charts for your child to record their feelings that day.
The thing to remember about using any of these recording systems or tools is that you can adjust them to suit your needs. Maybe it would be far simpler to just write on your calendar, notes about your day and how you felt. Whatever works for you is the best system.
How about you? Have you ever completed a mood chart? Do you think such a tool could help you? Or do you think taking data is too difficult to manage? Let us know your thoughts. You know we love to hear from you.