Why You Should Use a Mood Chart to Track Bipolar Disorder
I live with bipolar disorder and anxiety. This means my moods can range from intense manic highs, mixed states and devastating lows. Combine those with anxiety and I often have challenging days.
One way in which I communicate my moods and challenges is through mood charting. There are many options for charting including apps, websites and paper versions. I like using a paper chart because it allows me to take it to my various providers, but some apps and online versions allow you to share them with providers as well.
There are three main reasons I choose to chart my moods:
1. First, a good chart allows me to track my mood over time and recognize patterns that may recur during specific times of the month, season or year. This information is very helpful for me and my providers in planning ahead for difficult times and putting extra supports in place when they may be needed.
2. Second, I am sure to track things like sleep, medication changes and illness. This provides valuable insight into why my mood may be shifting and allows for an early warning that an episode may be coming. If I notice my sleep is waning or becoming excessive, for example, I know to alert providers.
3. Third, I can keep track of my anxiety and irritability as well. As someone living with a comorbid anxiety disorder, this helps me to manage how much anxiety plays a role in shaping my mood. Tracking this every day helps me to make sure I am effectively utilizing my medications and identify patterns I may not have otherwise seen.
I also keep a brief journal with a one-sentence description of the day on the back of my chart for reference so that I can answer provider questions about a specific day. It helps them to understand what is circumstantial and what is organic to my illnesses.
Mood charting has given me a sense of order in what can seem like a very chaotic illness. I am able to effectively communicate with providers about what has been happening since I last saw them, and they are able to have more insight into my day-to-day life. Whether it’s by app, web or on paper, mood charting is a valuable tool to help in the fight for stability.
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