help with depression: track your mood

many of my readers are interested in mood tracking software, and if you want to read about this, you can go to this entry, where, among other things, i talked about a program called VistaWrite. another way to track your mood is to just do it manually, using your own method, or using some of the ones you can find on the web.

bipolar mood chart

today i looked at the mood chart by ronald fieve. it is obviously designed from a psychiatric point of view, and for people with bipolar disorder but it can also be used for people who “only” deal with depression.

this chart ranges from a 100 in the bipolar range (medical emergency. wildly manic and psychotic; can’t stop talking; incoherent, overactive, belligerent, or elated. not sleeping at all. at times delusional; hallucinating. may be either violent or paranoid.) to a 0 on the depressed side (medical emergency unable to eat or take medications. can’t follow ward routine. delusional; suicidal. stuporous. stares into space; very little response to questioning. may require tube feeding).

in my observation, most people who are dealing with depression are in the 30-40 range:

40………………..mildly depressed mood, but noticeable lack of energy; chronic lack of optimism and pleasure. feels slowed down. treatment may not be desired, although it may be indicated. decreased interest in sex. decreased motivation.

30…………………moderate depression. loss of energy; disinterested in others; early weight, sleep and appetite disturbance; able to function with effort but wants to stay in bed during day; doesn’t want to go to work; feels life is not worthwhile. little sexual interest. outpatient treatment advised by doctors.

because there are so many whose experience of depression falls broadly into those areas, one way of personalizing this a little more would simply be to rank each aspect, with 10 being “great” and 0 being “very problematic”.

mood chart for depression

energy
0 —————————— 10

optimism
0 —————————— 10

ability to feel pleasure
0 —————————— 10

sex drive
0 —————————— 10

motivation
0 —————————— 10

interest in others
0 —————————— 10

food intake
0 —————————— 10

sleep
0 —————————— 10

ability to work
0 —————————— 10

ability to carry out daily functions
0 —————————— 10

when you suffer from these or other symptoms, which may be due to depression, for longer than 2 weeks, it is a good idea to track them daily, maybe even more than once a day. it’s also good to make short notes beside some of the entries (“uncle bill was over”, “had a beer”, “worked ’til 10”).

a tool for tracking but also for improvement

apart from giving you information about your state of mind, doing this can also give you a sense of control (which is often lacking during depression). you will also see how things change during the day and from day to day. you can then look at those times when you score higher, try to remember under what circumstances you felt better, and see whether those circumstances can be replicated.

this tool, then, records your mood – but it can also help you get better.

after a few weeks of actively using this tool you may find yourself feeling better. if you don’t, please don’t continue suffering on your own – please call a counsellor, the crisis line, or your doctor. bringing this record with you to your appointment will also give your health care provider a quick overview of your situation.

3 thoughts on “help with depression: track your mood

  1. Dr. Michael Benjamin

    Hi
    I have been working with Depression for 38 years.
    There are two aspects about treating depression. How do we cure it? How do we prevent it?
    They are not the same. No matter how we may cure depression this will not prevent depression.
    Why is it so important to prevent depression?
    Depression reoccurs. People who have the tendency to be depressed suffer from a permanent poor quality of life.
    I no longer believe that Medications to be a panacea. They may cure depression. They do not increase quality of life.
    But this begs a very serious question. When is someone depressed and not merely very sad? When do we cure? When do we prevent?
    As a rule of thumb we can use functioning. If sadness is such that there is an objective limitation of functioning then we should address the problem as ’curing depression’.
    If a person is sad but is not suffering a limitation in functioning then we should address the problem as ‘preventing depression’.
    VNS, ECT, and Medications cure depression. They do not really prevent it.
    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT, prevents it.
    It really is as simple as that.
    If you want a fuller insight into how CBT works, or how CBT can be offered online please refer to my free Online site http://www.myRay.com
    If you wish to understand more about: Thoughts, feelings, emotions, moods, depression, what it means, what re your choices and how to choose please refer to my free online site http://www.MyDoctorExplains.com
    Both sites, http://myRay.com and http://MyDoctorExplains.com are non commercial and free.
    Use them as often and as long as you so wish.
    With kindest regards.
    Dr. Michael Benjamin,
    Psychiatrist

  2. Dr. Michael Benjamin

    Hi
    I have been working with Depression for 38 years.
    There are two aspects about treating depression. How do we cure it? How do we prevent it?
    They are not the same. No matter how we may cure depression this will not prevent depression.
    Why is it so important to prevent depression?
    Depression reoccurs. People who have the tendency to be depressed suffer from a permanent poor quality of life.
    I no longer believe that Medications to be a panacea. They may cure depression. They do not increase quality of life.
    But this begs a very serious question. When is someone depressed and not merely very sad? When do we cure? When do we prevent?
    As a rule of thumb we can use functioning. If sadness is such that there is an objective limitation of functioning then we should address the problem as ’curing depression’.
    If a person is sad but is not suffering a limitation in functioning then we should address the problem as ‘preventing depression’.
    VNS, ECT, and Medications cure depression. They do not really prevent it.
    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT, prevents it.
    It really is as simple as that.
    If you want a fuller insight into how CBT works, or how CBT can be offered online please refer to my free Online site http://www.myRay.com
    If you wish to understand more about: Thoughts, feelings, emotions, moods, depression, what it means, what re your choices and how to choose please refer to my free online site http://www.MyDoctorExplains.com
    Both sites, http://myRay.com and http://MyDoctorExplains.com are non commercial and free.
    Use them as often and as long as you so wish.
    With kindest regards.
    Dr. Michael Benjamin,
    Psychiatrist

  3. isabella mori

    dr. benjamin, thanks for your comment. i noticed you left the exact same comment on the guardian’s post on implants for depression.
    at any rate, your take on prevention and treatment is interesting. i’d be interested in hearing how this distinction has been instrumental in helping your clients.

    i am not sure that CBT is the be-all and end-all of preventing depression but it certainly works for quite a few people. i’m looking forward to exploring your sites.

  4. isabella mori

    dr. benjamin, thanks for your comment. i noticed you left the exact same comment on the guardian’s post on implants for depression.
    at any rate, your take on prevention and treatment is interesting. i’d be interested in hearing how this distinction has been instrumental in helping your clients.

    i am not sure that CBT is the be-all and end-all of preventing depression but it certainly works for quite a few people. i’m looking forward to exploring your sites.

  5. Jenn Rae

    Hello Isabella,

    I agree with your comment. CBT has it’s place but is by no means the be-all-and-end-all for depression. I have found it somewhat helpful for some people, and that’s the most I can say.

    I have recently been using ACT (acceptance & commitment therapy) in my practice as a family physician working in a large university health clinic and have found this far more effective for my particular patient base than CBT. In fact, I find that CBT can sometimes be counterproductive for patients with a tendency towards being overly analytical – what these people need is NOT more thinking (and subsequently trying to “think their way out of their depression”), but rather, to feel their feelings and learn some new skills, such as acceptance.

    To some extent, low moods are a feature of everyday life, and it may well be that depressed persons have a decreased ability to tolerate sad feelings – ironically, I have found that the less one tries to fight one’s feelings, the more likely those feelings are to subside over time. In the end, each person must find their own way through depression to peace-of-mind, and that way may include medication or therapy (or various kinds) – and often both. To think that there is “one way” to fix anything is narrow-minded, to say the least!

    I have enjoyed your site!

    All the best,

    Jenn Rae, MD

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