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Scaling Your Moods

Bipolar Update

I Know How I Feel

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Photo by Kevin Dinkel

Tracking moods is essential for managing the symptoms of bipolar and for your mental health. By becoming adept at “feeling” when you are “climbing up” toward mania or “falling down” and going down the slippery slope into a depression, you can better manage your own symptoms.  This translates into greater feelings of empowerment and independence. 

We can often re balance ourselves if we know what to do before a full blow episode of mania or depression hits, instead of waiting until you hit a crisis, or are in need of an intervention.  For example, if you know that a certain type of medication or exercise etc… can help you to calm down if you feel your mood elevating beyond where it should be, then you can make a concerted effort to incorporate this into your self care.  But how will you know when you need an “extra dose” of your own self care and symptom management?  The way we know what to do when, is by using a simple number scale. The scale itself is to measure how “hot or cold” your mood is; or in other words, to measure how intense your mood is, and if you are in the “Take Care Of Me” Zone (meaning you need to use your self symptom management tools and skills) or you are in the “Danger Zone” (Meaning you need to call someone for help Now).  If you experience both manic and depressive episodes, it would be wise to use two separate scales together so you can see the both, and keep track of these daily.  Below is an example:

At a level 7 you will activate your “Take Care Of Me” Zone- meaning that you will make an appointment to see your therapist before your symptoms become unmanageable, or call your support team and let them know you feel that you are cycling while welcoming there support.You will create your own scale.  In this example, you are using the scale to get your attention if you are above a 6.  At the number 6 you will use the coping skills. self care tools,  and symptom management techniques that you have incorporated into your Wellness Plan (see by blog: or that you have acquired and know that work for you.  You will reach out to a friend, go for a walk, use your meditation etc.

DEPRESSION 1 2 3 4 5
SUPER HAPPY-WOW Feeling Great Energetic Feeling Good Neutral
MANIA 1 2 3 4 5
Don’t feel like getting out of bed at all Kind of want to do nothing Don’t feel like doing a whole lot today, but I’m ok Feeling Calm Neutral


DEPRESSION 6 7 8 9 10
Feeling Blah Got the Blues-but manageable Can’t Stop Crying Thinking about Suicide Suicidal
        Take Care of Me Zone   —    DANGER ZONE
MANIA 6 7 8 9 10
Feeling good, going to clean that garage today Energetic, feeling “Revved Up” but manageable Can’t control my ENERGY! Starting to think those weird thoughts… I am going to Fly-Hallucinations
  •  At a level 8, it is time to get to the doctor ASAP and see what kind of treatment you need now, to help prevent you from cycling any further- you will likely be calling your support team to help you make the call and get you there.
  • At a level 9, you support team should be taking over your care, and will take you to your preferred professional helpers (psychotherapist, psychiatrist etc.)
  • At a level 10, Emergency protocol should be activated, and your support team will need to transport you to an inpatient program.

Please take the time to review my blog on developing a personal wellness and recovery plan. Having a plan in place and sharing this with those who care about you and who are willing to be on your support team can make all the difference in the world, minimizing episodes at the 8, 9 and 10 level; which will translate in an increase quality of life overall. By following your personalized Self Care Plan when you are in the “Take Care Of Me” Zone, you can likely prevent many episodes that put you the “Danger Zone” of 8, 9, and 10.

Scaling Your Moods

Dr. Barbara Bachmeier

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APA Reference
Bachmeier, D. (2015). Scaling Your Moods. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from


Last updated: 19 Mar 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Mar 2015
Published on All rights reserved.