“My medications work for a while and then they just stop working…”
“I have tried everything and nothing works…”
“I have been in treatment forever but I just never seem to get better…”
In our experience these very common concerns are often symptoms of an everyday problem in psychiatric treatment of mood disorders: it is very hard in a traditional practice for doctors or patients to really know when a medication is working, when it isn’t, and, especially, when it worked for some things but didn’t for other things (when it helped with sleep but made mood worse, for example, or when it made things better in the short run but made things worse in the long run).
Mood charting is the most powerful way to improve the quality of the treatment you receive. But it is also something that is surprisingly hard for many people to do.
What is involved is keeping track of the medications that you take, and rating yourself on a few important dimensions. The many patients in our clinic who do mood charting say that it takes about 2 minutes per day.
So why is it so hard? Partly the problem is logistic (where do you put a mood chart to remind you to fill it out — can you really stick it on the refrigerator?), but another important dimension is the training many of us received as children that when you are feeling bad you should do whatever you can to avoid being aware of those bad feelings. Unfortunately, this training, which probably made things more pleasant at home, didn’t do anything to help you figure out what to do in order to feel better.
For more about mood charting check out this video or go to the “Links” section of this site.