If someone asked you how you’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, what would you say?
Mood 24/7 is a novel technology that combines the powers of a secure website with automatic mood tracking through a daily SMS text sent to your cell phone. After registering online at www.mood247.com and entering a confirmation code sent to your mobile phone, every day at the time you choose, it sends a text message asking how you’re feeling and you respond with a quick rating and an optional note that can be as long as you want. Not only can you log onto the website and see your moods progress over time, but you can use the added notation entries to serve as an electronic health diary. And because it uses daily SMS texts you can monitor your moods almost effortlessly with any mobile phone—no apps required.
You can use your online mood chart to get a better read on your own moods and what causes them or you can choose to share them with your behavioral health care provider(s). You can add as many providers as you like to your trusted circle and they in turn can assess your mood trends in real time. Your providers can make their own entries into your online mood chart via the website as well. This ensures you will not forget what is discussed during your visits but also permits each of your designated care providers to view one another’s notes and create as an integrated health record. Data is sent to a secure repository and personal information is all encrypted and stored on a HIPAA compliant secure server. No information is shared unless express permission is granted.
I was introduced to Mood 24/7 at the eHealth Executive Summit hosted by The Atlantic in association with the National Council last week. The program consisted of several panels featuring big names in eHealth and telemedicine as well as a few short presentations. The Mood 24/7 presentation was only 5 minutes long, but it really grabbed my attention.
It was presented by Adam Kaplin, MD, PhD, the inventor of Mood 24/7. Dr. Kaplin co-developed the Mood 24/7 system with Remedy Health and he is the Principle Psychiatric Consultant to the Neurology Department at Johns Hopkins University.
Mood 24/7 is a great way to track progress in psychotherapy and other behavioral health initiatives. Providers can use the information to get a better picture of how consumers are adjusting to treatment. For example, Lithium, a popular treatment for bipolar disorder often begins with an adjustment period where moods fluctuate rapidly for a short period and then even-out. Physicians can monitor the transition period with Mood/247 and consider other options if the medication’s effects aren’t working as anticipated or provide reassurance to a consumer worried about the changes in their mood.
Providers get more accurate information about their patients’ moods as well. Most people believe they have a good sense of how their mood has been over the last few weeks, but the truth is, as many providers know, that they really don’t. A significant few days of feeling really bad can be followed by a more neutral period that wouldn’t stand out in an individual’s memory. But the difference between constant depression and intermittent depression is an important one for providers be able to recognize and treat appropriately.
Mood trends can also be marked by certain events that an individual may not be able to accurately report to their provider. With the Mood 24/7 system, providers can identify when certain moods are happening specifically. For example, a provider may notice a significant drop in mood over the course of a few days and can then ask the individual what was going on during that time. A visit from in-laws or an evening out drinking could be triggers that the patient wouldn’t realize are connected to changes in their mood.
Dr. Kaplin reports that compliance in Mood 24/7’s system is at 90% compared to just 10% in traditional mood tracking with a pen and paper. He attributes the high success rate to the simplicity of responding to a text— something most people already do several times a day without a second thought.
Tracking moods over time like this is also a great way to address the issue of our limited ability to remember our own mood trends. While we may think we have a good read on this, most people can’t actually remember more than a few days of their past moods (do you remember what you had for dinner more than 3 days ago?). As influential bipolar blogger, Natasha Tracy, puts it:
People are terrible at remembering mood. This is pretty much what happens:
“What was your mood last week?”
“Um, mostly OK, I guess.” Or you might say, “Depressed.”
This is not accurate mood reporting. In reality, everyone’s mood fluctuates to some degree. You were more depressed on Thursday because they didn’t air a new episode of Burn Notice. You had a visitor that lifted your mood a little for two days. That sort of thing.
Individuals can also identify reasons for mood changes that may not be directly related to issues of brain chemistry. For example, a person wondering if they have depression may track their moods for a few weeks and note that during the weekdays they feel terrible but the weekends are usually pretty good. It’s possible that rather than having depression, this person actually just hates their job.
Mood-tracking is not a new concept, it’s long been touted as an important exercise in tracking treatment progress for behavioral health disorders. But the quick and easy way that Mood 24/7 handles the task automatically and conveniently certainly is. Traditionally, mood-tracking involves individuals keeping a diary of their moods. This method raises several concerns: it’s time-consuming, difficult to remember to do, and requires a certain amount of self-discipline and energy, which can be especially difficult to manage for someone with a behavioral health disorder.
You don’t necessarily have to use Mood 24/7 in tandem with psychotherapy either. Being able to recognize the effect certain life events have on your mood allows you to take action to make things better. You could notice that during high-stress times at work your mood suffers, or that attending a wedding lifts your spirits. Having more information is the best way to take ownership of your own care. If you know that a family reunion is going to stress you out in advance, you can plan a relaxation day the weekend before. If you know that your mood suffers when things are crazy at work, you can avoid making social plans for a few day so you have time to unwind.
If you’re interested in tracking your mood or learning more you can visit Mood 24/7 here.
Daniayla Stein lives in the DC area as a Digital Communications professional with InSight Telepsychiatry, the national leading telepsychiatry service provider. Daniayla is passionate about helping people help themselves through information and advocacy and frequently writes on behavioral health issues and healthcare policy. She graduated from Beloit College in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology and Creative Writing.