Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood changes. They range from euphoric or dysphoric mania to severe depression. Each person’s experience with bipolar disorder is different. That’s why we have to pay close attention to what may or may not affect our mood. For example, how much disturbed sleep can I experience before I start showing symptoms? Since bipolar disorder is affected by many aspects of daily life (sleep, diet, medication, etc.), it can be difficult to keep track of all the information necessary to stay well-informed. Thankfully, there are apps and mood trackers available that help us track our moods and stay on top of our bipolar disorder.
Monitoring symptoms is beneficial in a few ways. It can help identify potential triggers that can cause a person to relapse into either mania or depression. It can help you tell whether or not a new treatment is making a difference. It can help you get out of your head when you think you’ve been feeling all bad but realize you did have a good few days in there. It can also help your treatment team get a better picture of how you are instead of just relying on your memory.
When tracking your mood there are several data points that are important to look at. Some mood trackers will offer all of these and more and some may offer considerably less. You may choose to use apps or pre-made, printable sheets or write in a journal. Any path you choose, it’s important to track the following:
How do you feel in general? Excellent, good, okay, poor or awful? Some trackers may use a number system like a scale of 1-10.
Bipolar disorder symptoms
This may also offer a range of symptoms from extremely manic to stable to severely depressed. It may also include symptoms like anxiety or sleep problems, for example.
More thorough trackers may ask for specific medications and dosages to show how mood changes with medication. Others may just ask whether or not medication was taken that day. You may also be able to track side effects.
This includes sleep, exercise, and activities, for example, all of which can either affect or be affected by bipolar disorder.
Were you sick that day? Did you have a bad day at work? If not available in the meds section, are you experiencing side effects? Anything that was notable and may be relevant can be put in a notes section.
It’s important to be able to share this data at the very least with your psychiatrist so they can use it in deciding treatment options. This may come in printouts, graphs or just showing them the app on your phone.
No matter what method you use to track your moods, the most important part is using it daily. It only takes a few minutes, if that, to help you and your treatment team get a good view of what you’re experiencing and how to make it better.
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