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tips for monitoring mood?


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I was wondering if anyone has tips for tracking moods? My problem is that I seem to be objectively bad at rating my moods and always think I'm 'ok' until I'm really not and even then it's normally someone else who points it out. I have an app (Inflow) but like I said I just end up choosing 'ok' so it's not meaningful in any way. I'd really like objective measures I can track, apart from how much sleep I'm getting.

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I use moodtracker.com, but from how you describe it probably wouldn't work for you? I'm actually pretty self aware when it comes to moods according to my tdoc so it works pretty fine. 

One thought for you, though, is to take a pain scale with descriptors for each numerical value and reword the descriptors with tangible ideas about mood. Like, for example. We can in theory use this scale I found off google. And we can make 8 euthymia, with 1 being horrible depression and 15 being off the walls, psychotic mania.

We could say a 6 is "feeling bluh, yawning more than usual, not wanting to do certain fun activities". 4 is "stays in bed until obligations come around, misses meals and isn't showering". 2 is "has missed three days of work, can barely move, is actively crying at the slightest moves, heavily suicidal". Then say, 10 can be "hyper and bubbly, throwing caution to the wind but highly productive". 12 can be "'did you just spend $1500 on band equipment?' 'yes' 'you dont play an instrument' 'yeah but i'm gonna and we'll be the next beatles'". And 14 is "I am a messenger from God sent to rid the world of all evil". And of course, you'd want to tailor those descriptors personally to you, but that would be a good tool for journaling I think.

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I like the idea of creating a scale like that! I also like it being 1-15, 1-10 doesn't feel like it has enough nuance.

I found this descriptive mood scale (see image) which I think could be useful but perhaps not practical to track. I particularly like that anxiety is shown as having the same activation but opposite valence to mania/excitement which is how I experience it sometimes. The site I found the image on has some good thoughts on how to measure mood: http://quantifiedself.com/2012/12/how-is-mood-measured-get-your-mood-on-part-2/

I also found this website: http://www.moodscope.com/ which has a gamified way to track moods. This looks most useful for me. I'll probably update after a while to let people know how I get on!

 

mood scale.jpg

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I have a similar issue. One thing my therapist recommended was to track not just mood, but other factors like sleep, energy, irritability, anxiety, social activity, concentration etc. The idea is that while I may not always accurately label my mood, we can catch if say, I'm sleeping more, but yet less energetic, that I may be trending towards depression. Or if I'm irritable, not sleeping, and have excess energy I may be hypomanic. I've only been doing it for a month or two, so I can't really say how well it works, but it seems like a good idea. 

I've been using an app called MoodDiary on my phone (Android). I chose it because you can customize it to add whatever categories you want, but the chart/visual output isn't as clear as ideal, but it works okay. 

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I distill it down to some simple questions that only have yes/no answers, ie there is no room for interpretation.

 

Have I showered in the last week ?

Have I washed my hair in the last week ?

Have I left the house for any reason last week ?

Do I have food the the refrigerator/freezer or pantry ?

Did I sleep well every night last week ? 

Did I take pills as scheduled last week ?

 

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I agree with customizing something to your specific symptoms. 1-10 scales and similar trackers are useless for me. I have no clue how to choose unless I'm very depressed but even then it's hard. But things based on my particular things, sleeping, spending, etc, now that I can answer.  If you find a tracker that suits you, great, but might help to list your trouble issues and clues and design a custom list instead of or in addition to it. 

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I started to answer this question a few days ago, but then backed off, but I see someone else has answered similarly. For me, there can not be subjective assessment, because I will lie to me, and when pressed, I will aggressively defend. So i had to develop a totally objective diagnostic with time-limited, yes-no questions, but which were based on my own unique and familiar mania presentation. It is all about my actions and behavior, predicated on the premise these will be indicative of how my head is behaving, bc while i might try to modify my behavior/actions to disguise a mania from others, i would not, actually could not, premeditatedly alter my overt behaviors just to fool myself later should i happen to throw a pop quiz at me. So it seems like a valid way to assess. And if I hit a certain point score, that's it, game over. I have to immediately take a xanax and abilify and go to bed. I rebel sometimes, but I can usually shame myself into compliance.

My assessment questions:

A. How many 24-hour periods has it been since you last slept at least 5 hours? Score 1 point for each, 0 if well-rested

B. Has anyone been harmed? 3 if yes

C. Is the radio on? 1 if yes, 0 if no. If well-rested and still hearing the radio, score 2

C. How long since you fed the machine? If within 24 hours, 0, if not, score 1

D. Current meds/meditations? 0 yes, 1 no

E. In last 24 hours, have you been on TV, or had a monoconvo lasting more than 10 minutes, OR which drew notice?
Score 1 if yes, 0 if no

F. Have you engaged in at least one hour's worth of purposeful activity out of the last twelve hours (not counting sleep) score 0 if yes, 1 if no


"The radio" refers to the background of music and chatter that i almost always hear if I am experiencing some instability; I've met others who describe it as a soundtrack, but the content of mine is usually unintelligible, as it sounds muffled, as though it were coming from next door or something. It is my oldest consistent symptom.
"Been on TV" refers to a habit I have of narrating my life as if it was a reality TV show. This behavior is positively associated with the run up to mania, as is monoconvo, talking to myself AND answering. Like most people, I periodically make comments like, "now look what you did." UNLIKE most people, I sometimes answer defensively, leading to arguments that can go on and on--but only when I am unstable.

"Purposeful activity" just means anything that needs to be done. My mania have changed in the last couple years, and become almost completely worthless episodes of sleepless anxiety, in which I wander from room to room sitting down and standing up, afraid to go anywhere, unable to apply myself to any useful activity, and totally unable to relax. One hour out of 12 may seem like a pretty low bar, but it's actually rather a challenge.

Actually, maybe this doesn't even really go to your question, because it's more like an intervention assessment, checking to see if I'm already ready to topple off the rails. Hmmm.

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