Tracking your mood, medicines, and symptoms is a critical piece of managing depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. You can go out and buy a paper journal every three months like I do, but there’s a much more efficient way. A fantastic selection of mood apps designed for the smartphone exist on the market today. Their features allow you to better understand patterns of behavior and thoughts, especially as they relate to factors such as sleep, diet, stress levels, and exercise regimes. It can be overwhelming to sort through all the possibilities, so I’ve done some homework for you, so I’ve made a list of my top six. Happy mood tracking! Please note that these apps should not be used as substitutes for professional help, but the data can be easily shared with your doctor.
This app was developed by two clinical psychologists (the co-creators of Moodnotes) and draws upon the principles and techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy. CNET’s review said “It’s like having your own portable psychologist … packed with tools designed to improve not just your mood, but also your overall well-being.” Some special features include:
- Exportable Mood Charts with 7 & 30-day views
- Unlimited mood ratings and notes per day
- Over 200 mood improvement activities
- Saves exportable notes to a central journal
- A Thought Checker, which helps you to manage negative feelings related to a specific situation
Moodkit costs $4.99.
M3 is a screening tool, a three-minute checklist to assess your risk of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and PTSD. The screen responses and analysis can then be accessed online by a health care professional or emailed directly to a doctor. The information expedites and organizes a discussion between you and your doctor, helping to achieve a more accurate diagnosis and assessment of issues. Once the user has completed the screen, they are encouraged to record their progress on a biweekly basis for the first month and monthly thereafter. The M3 website provides patient forms for the monitoring of progress and potential side-effects of medications. M3 is unique in that it’s the only self-administered clinical tool that integrates patient self-rating of symptoms covering all of the major mood and anxiety disorders, and is the first instrument of its kind to include patient education and monitoring of patient information and side-effects during the course of treatment. The app is free.
3. PTSD Coach
PTSD Coach was created by the US Department of Veteran Affair’s National Center for PTSD in partnership with the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and has been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world. Originally designed for veterans and military members who have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this app provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, and resources for support. It offers a range of tools helping persons to better manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD, such as relaxation techniques, self-talk strategies, and ideas for anger management. Users can customize the tools and integrate them with their contacts, personal photos, and music selections. The app is free.
Breathe2Relax is a stress reduction and stress management tool that provides information on the detrimental effects of stress on the body as well as instructions on how to decrease and manage it. For example, users learn diaphragmatic breathing that has been documented to reduce the body’s fight-or-flight stress response and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety. Users record their stress level on a visual analogue scale by swiping a small bar to the left or to the right. The app includes sophisticated graphics, animation, narration, and videos to deliver an enjoyable experience. Developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app is free.
Optimism is a mood-charting app that helps you to develop and monitor health strategies, learn your triggers, and recognize early warning signs of a decline in your mental health. The user-friendly charts and reports can be immediately emailed or are available within the app and form a feedback loop, which helps you to pick up on what factors help your mental health and which ones impair it. Optimism allows you to document a wellness plan that details your emotional health strategies and appropriate steps in the event of a setback. The app is free.
This app isn’t available on the market yet, but it was worth including in this list because the remarkable technology can monitors a user’s mood by recording his or her phone calls. By analyzing speech patterns—subtle qualities of a person’s voice—the app can detect signs of the start of mood episode. For example, slow speech and frequent long pauses might indicate depression, and fast, loud speech could indicate hypomania. In a pilot study of six people with bipolar disorder, the app was able to distinguish manic or depressed moods based on an analysis of a person’s speech. University of Michigan psychiatrist Melvin McInnis, M.D., who developed Priori with computer scientists Zahi Karam, Ph.D. and Emily Mower Provost, Ph.D., was quoted in a Wired article saying, “The question isn’t whether or not this technology is going to be used in healthcare and monitoring individuals with psychiatric illnesses. The question is really: How?” More testing is still needed before the app is available for widespread use. Learn more about the app here.