Keeping a mood diary is not just for people suffering from depression! Although useful in monitoring depression, bipolar disorders and even PMS, there are many other reasons you might want to monitor your mood and the contributing factors The most obvious is that over time you can become more aware of your feelings, and the things that cause them, and you can use the data you collect to find patterns that can improve your happiness levels. For example if you are experimenting with making diet and exercise changes you may like to see how it impacts on your mood. Giving up cigarettes or narcotics may be another reason to track your mood.
Some people may already be monitoring their mood and may not be aware of it. These people know exactly when their mood changes and can predict what will happen. Others are not as in tune with their mood and changes in mood. Mood monitoring is a learning process which helps people get better in tune with their mood.
Some people have reported that their mood is either too low or too high and that they don’t have any “in-between” moods. Others have said that they can have days of ups and days of downs and some have said that they can feel both high and low in the same day. The goal of mood monitoring is to understand if mood changes, how mood changes, when it changes and is there anything happening before it changes.
What is a mood chart?
It is a simple, user driven tool that requires only a few minutes a day to complete.
It provides a visual image of how important pieces of information such as mood, exercise, medication, and life events all fit together.
Usually the chart contains space for at least the following information:
1. Date: there should be space for recording data for each day.
2. Mood scale: the scale would typically include a baseline which indicates feeling normal (low or high) and then a range of points above the baseline for elevated mood, and below the baseline for depressed mood. A scale of -3 to +3 is common, as defined by Harvard’s Dr. Peter Brigham mood chart example
3. How much sleep the person got.
4. What medication was taken and the dosage.
5. Notes: this an be a record of life events considered relevant, such as stressors, therapy sessions, family gatherings, or notes about the workplace.
In addition to the standard mood chart features as set out above, the FutureSSecured Happiness App allows you to customize what you want to track, for example if you want to measure time spent in meditation, prayer, cycling, swimming, fresh air or anything else that you feel may impact on your happiness, you can add it with a simple checkbox.
Types of Mood Charts
You can keep a paper based or electronic mood chart. There are countless freely available on the net. Research shows using an online version of a mood chart increases compliance and makes it easier to integrate your mood chart into your life. It’s also a lot more fun.
Reasons to Keep a Mood Chart
Pattern Recognition: It is a visual tool that makes it much easier to identify patterns before serious problems develop. Because there are so many factors involved (sleep, medication, life events, exercise, PMS) charting is far easier, more effective and clearer than keeping a diary or simply trying to remember everything in between visits to the doctor or other life events
Objective Evidence: You may suspect that fish oil is doing you good, or that your new medication is adding kilos to the scale, but nothing beats decisions based on collecting empirical data over a period of time.
Pre-emptive Strikes: If used to manage a condition such as bipolar, the mood chart provides an early warning system that shows when your mood is becoming unstable. This makes it possible to make changes before being caught in the middle of a major mood episode.
Self Awareness: It is helpful to be aware of when you feel any ups or downs. It gives a sense of control and makes us more sensitive to how our condition may be effecting our loved ones.
Evidence When Claiming Social Security Disability: For people with disorders it is a very useful part of your medical evidence, it can show exactly how your mood swings interfere with daily living.
Sharing your Mood Chart
Sharing charts for bipolar disorder with significant others, family, friends, therapists or medical professionals, or anyone else you consider part of your support network may be extremely helpful.
1. Sometimes others are able to pick up patterns that you miss.
2. It helps to keep your partner informed, involved and feeling trusted.
3. Sometimes symptoms show up as an inclination to be secretive, paranoid and controlling – sharing your chart is the most effective way to short circuit these feelings.
4. Knowledge is power, and power should be shared!
5. If under-going treatment the information from your mood chart is needed to create an effective Wellness Plan that is personalized for your disorder and for your Treatment Contract, giving you and your loved ones an important safety net.
6. It’s fascinating to look back over the year, compare your happiness with others, and see when our moods are in sync etc
How to Use the FutureSSecured Happiness App Mood Chart