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Choosing a Value for Your Mood Chart

These instructions are intended for use with Electronic Mood Charting. 


Mood

Depression symptoms

Here's the general idea: 

Number Value Mood Function
0 Okay, neutral, or actually pretty good No problems, or -- more likely -- the usual degree of struggle that life poses for most people
-1 Mildly depressed Clearly not at your best , but most people might not notice
-2 Moderately depressed Noticeably struggling to get basic things done, such as preparing meals or getting to work.
-3 Severely depressed Unable to function:  even just getting cleaned up and dressed is difficult or not happening

As you can see, you only have three grades of depression to choose from, and you need to leave "negative three" for the most severe form you are likely to experience. 

"Up", hypomanic or manic symptoms

This side is trickier.  First, you have to choose which hypomanic or manic symptom you think might be the best marker for you when you are shifting in that direction, as described in "setting up your mood chart".  For some people the "up" shift is a positive experience.  But for many, at least half by most estimates, it is a negative experience.  And for many people, it can be both even within the same day.  But we'll use the 0-3 scale for all of these (in part because treatment is based on the presence of "up" symptoms, not which kind they are). 

Number Value Positive Energy  Function Negative Energy Function
0 Okay, neutral, not particularly energized Your usual ability to perform tasks Okay, neutral, not particularly energized Your usual ability to perform tasks
1 "Hyper", buzzing a bit, like having had strong coffee Clearly more active, but most people would not notice it.  Your pet or your partner might.  Irritable, harsh thoughts, some difficulty falling or staying asleep, edgy Your spouse or partner or kids can tell something is "a bit off". You can still work but it's harder.
2 Really energized, very excitable, loud, talkative, active, highly creative People are commenting on this level of energy, perhaps getting a little irritated with you Agitated or anxious or very irritable, can't focus very well, sleep is erratic Struggling to get basic things done, such as preparing meals or getting to work. Friends and co-workers can tell.  
3 Far too much energy, can't slow down your mind, can't focus (it often turns negative at this point or just before) Overactive, plunging into one activity then another without finishing anything, can't sit still, perhaps doing very risky things (sex, money, drugs, driving fast) Thoughts are completely out of control and very negative; suicidal thinking is very common; sleeping only a few hours/night Can't read, can't get much done except with great effort; people at work think something is really wrong, or you didn't go at all.  Driving people away with symptoms (irritable, anxious)

 


Exercise

You are doing this, aren't you?  If you need more minutes than the chart will allow (you animal), write me and I'll fix that. 

Sleep

You are entering "total time asleep".  What are you supposed to do if it's terrible sleep? (e.g. you spent 16 hours in bed but only slept 8 because it was so broken up).  How can you chart that?  

See "Adding Details" above, or make notes about what is happening, or choose a Mood Chart option with an additional variable (e.g. how many times did you wake up in the night? Use the 1-5 variable option). 

Menstrual Cycle

To chart menses as separate event that will show up on the graphs, pick a Mood Chart option with an extra variable.  If you have spotting and want to chart how much flow you have, you could choose the 1-5 variable.  If you have regular periods and just want to chart whether you have flow or not, you could choose the on/off variable.   


Medications

If you have a medication which does not come as a pill (e.g. liquid lithium, or a once-per-month injection, or progesterone cream), that's obviously a problem with this system.  Here's what I'd recommend: 

Decide on the pill size equivalent of your dose.  Pick a common dose for simplicity (you could ask a pharmacist for this information).  Leave room for the maximum dose:  the highest pill number you can enter is 6. 

Medication Common Dose per pill Maximum Dose Your "Equivalent" for 1 "pill"   Your actual dose (example) # You Would Enter (example)
Lithium 300 mg 1800-2400 mg orally 300 mg   1200 mg liquid 4
Progesterone 100 mg 200-300 mg orally 100 mg   200 mg as cream 2
Risperidone injection 1 mg 50 mg / 2 weeks 1 mg   25 mg/2weeks
 (~2 mg/day)
2

Totally confused?  Try writing me about this (it's a great way for me to troubleshoot such problems). 


Adding Details, Emphasizing Particular Numbers

If you are using the Notes version of the chart, you just need a system for calling attention to a particular number; then you can write a note about it.  If you are not using Notes, you may want to switch versions, or you could just devise your own "coding system" using some of the following techniques. Some will appear even if you print your chart, but some will not or will lose detail. All of these techniques have a button which appears on the Formatting toolbar (go to View, pull down to Toolbars, click on Formatting).  

Printer-compatible ways to emphasize particular numbers

    Try going from size 10 to size 14.

    This doesn't work unless you have increased the font size already.

Likely lost if printed in black and white

Use the little button that's supposed to look like a "highlighter".  The arrow just to the right shows you the color options.  This will give you plenty of ways to highlight particular values.  Don't get too carried away.  I'll bet in the long run you'll stop coding much more than just the columns I've given you.  Simple is easier to sustain!