Mood Charting

What is Mood Charting, and why do we think it’s so important?

In simple terms, mood charting is making notes, either on paper or electronically, about what your mood is at about the same time each day.  The chart can include other data points, such as hours of sleep, or type and duration of exercise, but the main idea is to have an objective record of what’s going on in your life.

If we’re honest, we all know that human memory is not good enough for data collection.  Patients frequently tell us “the medication isn’t doing any good” “nothing has changed” or “I tried that and it didn’t work”.  But when they start keeping careful track, a task that takes only minutes each day, they find that their memory is not accurate, and change can be documented, or new patterns can emerge.

Mood charting is an important tool for your physician or therapist as well, because they can get data that indicate which treatments are working and which may need to be tweaked.  Prescribing treatment is a complex job, and you can’t always assume that your doctor got it right the first time.  Particularly in complex cases, where anxiety, PTSD, or other disorders may co-occur, mood charting over a period of weeks or months can help identify correlations and even causes and effects in a way that isn’t always obvious on the surface.

How to do it?

“Old school” methods like posting a sheet of paper on the refrigerator still work, but more and more people nowadays are using cell phone apps, and we have recently become aware of a new app that holds a great deal of promise.  One thing we like about it is that it uses a scheme very similar to the mood charts we have been using, so it can be easily adapted for use in our practice.  

The How we Feel app is the first one we’ve seen that includes the alternatives High Energy-Low Energy and Pleasant-Unpleasant, which we find useful and meaningful for patients.

MS posts re: Mood Charting:

Mood Charting Part I

Mood Charting Part 2

The Value of Mood Charting

Mood Charting for Complicated Problems

GPS Post on Measurement Based Care