Sometimes it is difficult for me to know how long I have been feeling sad or blue. This tends to go one of two ways–either wondering how long I should wait to call someone and ask for help or the feeling that “it’s always been like this” and forgetting good times in the middle.
MoodChart.org has been very helpful for me in keeping track of what is going on. They send me a little reminder email each day, and I just click on the button that best suits my mood, (and it saves it for me. I can also go in and answer more questions or add notes–how much did I sleep, did something else significant happen that day, etc. It has been very very easy to use.
Here is an example of a daily email:
|One-Click Mood Chart
Record yesterday’s mood – Sunday, March 20, 2011 – by clicking on one of the mood levels listed below:
Mood Rating Guide These are some examples that may help you to choose the correct rating. Please remember that everbody is different, and your symptoms may not match the ones listed.
Severe mania: Incapacitated. You are completely unable to do usual activities because of manic symptoms. Others insist you need medical care.
High moderate mania: You may not be sleeping, you may feel all powerful, and/or have extremely rapid speech. You get much feedback that your behavior is different. Others may be angry about your behavior.
Low moderate mania: You may be unfocused or unproductive as a result of elevated mood or because of an increase in speech, thoughts, or socializing. You may get some feedback from others that you’re different from your usual self.
Mild mania: Mild symptoms of elevated mood such as decreased need for sleep, feeling high and confident, or an increase in your rate of thought, speech, or socializing. There is no negative impact on your ability to get things done, and in the beginning you may even perform better than usual.
Mild depression: Noticeably low mood; sad or withdrawn, but you perform daily routines with little or no trouble.
Low moderate depression: Your mood is quite low, and it is more difficult to do your usual activities. You have to push yourself to get things done.
High moderate depression: Depression is so bad that it’s very difficult to do your usual activities, and you can barely scrape by. You may be missing work or school.
Severe depression: Incapacitated. You are completely unable to do usual activities, and may not be able to get out of bed or go to school or work. You need a great deal of extra care at home or hospitalization.
I always click the most extreme feeling I have had for the day. And, if you go to the website, you can click a “high” and a “low” if you have had both in one day. I track some of the symptoms I call “anxiety” under “mania.” But, do what works for you and your doctor. You can print out any given month, and so, when I had to see a new psychiatrist, it was very helpful to be able to print out a whole year or two, and give a big picture. Or, when switching medication, this can help to track it’s effectiveness and side effects.
(I have a cousin with schizophrenia. She is one of the most persistent people I know and has one of the most treatment resistant illnesses I’ve ever met. I printed out blank pages for her and she tracks the depression and the voices, etc, and “mania” for the sake of the chart. It has been helpful for her who gets a new psychiatrist nearly every month.)
If you struggle with changes in mood (whether fluctuating up and down, depression that comes and goes, or feeling both high and low), or parent someone who is, this is a wonderful resource. It was partially created by Fred Goodwin, the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and along with Kay Redfield Jamison authored the landmark textbook Manic Depressive Illness. Research has shown that simply tracking moods can lead to greater understanding.
When I first went to the website and entered the information for my chart, I looked back at the previous year, and all the stressors, and thought, “That really was a lot that year. It was a long time of many incidents that you couldn’t just keep plowing through.” Looking at the chart allowed me to be more compassionate with myself.
It has helped me track patterns–monthly cycles, depression after visits with a certain person, two nights bad sleep means the third day will be irritable and explosive, etc. It has helped me make plans to change that for the better. It helps reassure me that I am not letting something slide, because I can see how many days I have been feeling a certain way.
I hope it is helpful for you, too. Let me know!