Mood Tracking & Technology

Alright, so we’ve talked a little about why charting is a good idea, how to create a rating scale, and what other sorts of things you can track along side your moods, but maybe you’re thinking charting with a pencil and paper is so vintage. And not it the kitchy way, either.

We have a ton of technology at our fingertips, right? Why not use it! We’ve got everything from spreadsheet applications, apps for your mobile device, to mood tracking websites, so I wanted to take a minute to address a few of these programs.

For folks on the go, an app on your mobile device might be a good option. There are a huge number of mood tracking apps, though in my experience I haven’t been able to find the perfect one. The two I’ve listed here have pretty good reviews, one is for Android and the other for iPhone.

eMoods bipolar mood tracker, free for Android, 4.2 star rating

  • eMoods tracks amount of sleep, depression, elevated mood, irritability, and anxiety with an option to denote psychotic symptoms and therapy sessions. Plusses include being able to include depressive and elevated symptom scores at the same time, meaning mixed situations are logged. This is a once per day log with a monthly, emailable graph.
  • The downfalls? Some have complained that the graph is difficult to read, and each trackable item only has a 0-3 scale (with zero counting as “unidentified”).

Mood Tracker: By the Cheryl T. Herman Foundation, $4.99 on the iPhone, 4.5 star rating

  • Mood Tracker allows tracking of mood, amount of sleep, functionality level, and mixed states, as well as a medication tracker (what you’re taking, what dosage, and what time). Both the mood tracker and medication log have an alarm to remind the user to imput data & take medicaitons. Track up to 12 different attributes, once daily log with monthly graphs you can email.
  • Downfalls? Difficulty for some reading graph, and a handfull of complaints about bugs within the program.

Using a mood-tracking website is another idea, and as long as you are someone who doesn’t stray too far from the tendrils of the internet they can be an interesting, reliable way to track your moods.

Moodscope

  • I was just turned on to this free website by DeeDee, a fellow graphmatician over at Disorderly Chickadee so I haven’t done much to try it out yet. From what I can tell, this is a once daily tracker designed to judge your mood for you based on how you answer a series of 20 questions. Moodscope is able to show you a graph of a year (or even more) of your results at a time, which is pretty rare for most mood charting services, and definitely useful. I’m going to try it out for a bit, but going in I know my results will be skewed (since I can fluctuate quite wildly over the course of a singe day) depending on what time of day I decide to answer the 20 questions. Free, easy, and very cool, beautiful graphs!

HealthyPlace.com Mood Tracker

  • This mood tracker incorporates a lot of the elements I think are important in tracking, this is a website that I really think has got a lot of things right. The tracker incorporates mood, sleep, anxiety, irritability, medications, and weight (something you may want to track given the propensity of psychiatric medications to cause weight gain) and provides an area for you to make notes (hooray!). The chart appears to cover only 30 days at a time, but there is also the option of a calendar view to see ratings denoted on dates on a calendar. In the event of severely high or low episodes, the mood tracker can be incorporated with your doctor’s fax or email to automatically alert them. Also a free service, check it out!

Spreadsheets are a great way to keep a table of your daily/hourly information  (should you go that route in tracking your moods), and they are usually capable of creating some graphs with the information you log there as well.

Excel Spreadsheets

  • Excel spreadsheets are great for being able to hold a lot of information, and there is a graphing ability in the program as well (though it isn’t stellar). If you are interested in making graphs for 1-3 month’s worth of data at a time, Excel can do the trick -but don’t expect it to be able to handle a year’s worth of data in one graph. But, for people who get a little OCD about what their analyzing graphs look like, the data in Excel can be funneled into a number of programs that will read it and create a graph for you. The drawback? Having the software itself. Personally, I don’t own Excel, and I am not likely going to run out and buy myself a copy when there are a number of free alternatives (like the one just below) lying around.

Google Docs Spreadsheets

  • I have been keeping a lot of my logs (numerical values) in google’s online, free spreadsheet program through Google Docs. For me it has been a nice, online way to store information without being concerned I might lose the file, and I can open it on any computer with an internet connection (no need to carry around my laptop!). I think this service is free to anyone with a gmail email address, and it has free word processing as well. There is a graph feature in this spreadsheet, but it is very limited. You can use it to get an idea of what your graph would look like, but not much else. If you are using this spreadsheet to keep a log of your numerical data, I would suggest imputing that data into another source when it comes to creating your graph.

If you’ve got data that you’re ready to create a graph for, there are many different programs you can use, depending on how much data you have and how much money you are willing to spend.

Adobe Illustrator

  • Adobe Illustrator creates some nice looking graphs, but it is on the expensive side and unless you are planning on doing other design projects, I wouldn’t recommend splurging. If you happen to have access to it, though, definitely check out the graphing features. Fully customizable graphs with each element separate and customizable on its own. Unfortunately, the data entry portion when it comes to creating your graph is a bit out of control (and difficult to use as you can’t copy and paste) but supposedly there is an “import” feature that includes excel spreadsheets.

Smart Draw

  • Smart Draw is a (supposedly) easy charting and graphing software with a free trial at the link provided. The example graphs look pretty good, but I’m not sure how they would hold up with a large amount of data (say, a year’s worth). The program can be integrated with microsoft office products, includes a ton of templates, and offers customer support. The amount of charts this program can create is mind-boggling, but I don’t have much experience with this program first-hand. Who knows, it may be worth getting the free download to see if it works for your charting needs!

There are really quite a few programs (and practically any program that is a “drawing” program) that have a create-graph feature, but for the most part they are complicated and expensive. Chances are, you already own software that has the ability to create a graph (like Excel, you just might not know it yet) or you may want to opt for a free version, like Google Docs Spreadsheets. Don’t want to mess with the creation of the graph at all? Then I’d recomend something more inclusive, like a mood tracking app or website that turns your information into a graph for you.

There are a lot of ways to incorporate technology into your mood tracking and charting, or you can always opt out of the technological portion and do it by hand. The point is that there is no one particular way that is the correct way to keep a mood chart, and there are enough different options out there for you to be happy with whatever method you decide on!

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13 responses to “Mood Tracking & Technology

  1. This form of technology seems interesting; might have to check it out!

  2. wow sarah thanks for all the great research. do any of the apps do mood checks multiple times a day?

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      David,

      unfortunately I haven’t been able to find one that allows you to check in multiple times per day, and honestly that is the main reason I haven’t been able to use something like that on a day-to-day basis. For that reason I have been doing my charting almost entirely on my own… so we’ve definitely got a gap in what technology is available vs. what people are looking for.

  3. I’ve used Moodscope. It does cover a lot of bases with the 20 questions in the form of playing cards. I also like the fact that you can make notes, up to 400 words, on the graph for each daily input if you choose.
    However, in my case, my mood is very changeable, and you have noted that this is a once a day chart only. I found that I would chart my feelings based on how I felt at that particular moment rather than have an accurate overview of the entire day.
    But, it is free – although they are supposed to be starting fees this month – and it won’t hurt anyone to try.
    Alice

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      Alice,

      I’ve been intrigued about Moodscope for a bit now and just started using it yesterday. As I mentioned in the post, I know my results wont be particularly accurate since my mood is also very changeable. I took the test once in the morning, and then again later in the afternoon and got a score the second time around that was 20 points lower than the first time.

      I definitely think it is an interesting service, and as long as people have the right mindset about what it is when they go in, it is pretty cool. I have also been really interested in how it is deciding to rate my moods, as the ratings it is giving me are pretty significantly different than what I would rate myself.

      Thanks for the additional info!

  4. Thanks for this awesome article! I started moodscape, and I’m going to try that for a bit, while keeping side notations of sleep, medication, weight, etc. I’d love to see what kind of correlations I can make.

  5. You can also use OpenOffice in place of Excel. It’s an open source alternative, free and all that.

    The variability issue with the once-daily check is best managed by always doing it at approximately the same time of day. Not ideal, but it’s one solution.

    Also, the MyMoodTracker app (iPhone, maybe there are Android versions?) does allow tracking mood as many times a day as you want. Plus med reminders, data export options, and a bunch of other great applicable features. I keep meaning to get more into using it but just haven’t done quite yet…

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      Glad to hear there is an app that lets you track several times a day, thanks for the info there!

      And I have a tendency to be sitting politely on my rocker in the mornings while completely off it in the evenings… so I’ve decided to go with taking the test twice a day on moodscope and just putting my score from the second time around in the comments for my bubble each day. I am hoping that will let me see a better spectrum of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

      • That sounds like a good way to manage it – especially if you know there’s a method to the madness, to coin a phrase. 😉

  6. thanks – this is really great information!

  7. Hi,

    Here is a nice iPhone app for mood tracking called iMoodJournal – http://itunes.apple.com/app/imoodjournal-mood-journal/id517952128?mt=8

    Hope this will help!

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