Need support now? Help is available. Call, text, or chat 988outbound call

Mood Diary for Bipolar Disorder

While bipolar disorder is partly caused by genetics, external events can also affect your mood. Money or relationship problems, work stress, or the death of a loved one can impact your mental health.1

Monitoring your mood is a constructive way to help manage your illness. A 2017 study found that daily mood monitoring prevented a relapse of bipolar disorder. The study was small, but all 3 participants remained stable for more than 5 years.1

Mood diary: a tool for bipolar disorder

The people in this study used pencil-and-paper mood charts to keep track of their bipolar disorder. These charts reflected each person's:1

They recorded their mood using a 5-point scale called a Likert scale. This scale went from −2 (not at all happy) to 2 (very happy). A score between −1 and 1 was considered a normal mood swing. But −2 and 2 were considered abnormal mood swings.1

Tracking sleep and medication

The mood charts included columns for wake-up and bedtime because abnormal sleep cycles can have a negative effect on mood. There was also a column that recorded whether the person had taken their medicine. Sticking to a routine with your medicines helps you keep your mood steady.2

The Life Chart Method

The Life Chart Method, created by the National Institute of Mental Health, has long been used to monitor the course of bipolar disorder. It is a vital tool for both the person with bipolar disorder and their doctor.2,3

Each day, the person with bipolar disorder rates their mood from 0 (most depressed ever) to 100 (most manic ever). They note how their mood has affected their ability to function at work, school, and home. The more their mood has affected their functioning, the more severe the episode.2,3

Aligning with treatment

At the end of each day, the information is entered into the Life Chart. By keeping track of symptoms, doctors, therapists, and people with bipolar disorder can judge how certain treatments are working.2

The Life Chart can serve as a portable psychiatric history. This can be useful when a person with bipolar disorder is changing doctors or going into a hospital setting.2

This or That

Have you tried the Life Chart Method?

Wellness tracker

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has its own wellness tracker system. This system is made up of 1 main mood tracker and 7 supporting trackers.

The main mood tracker lets you rate and record your mood twice a day. The ratings range from −4 (extremely depressed) to +4 (extremely elevated mood). You shade in the circle on the tracking sheet that matches your mood number for that day. At the end of the month, you connect the circles with a line. This graph shows your mood changes throughout the month.4

The supporting trackers monitor your symptoms, behavior, medicines you take, and lifestyle. There are 2 journal-style trackers and a general journal page. You can use the journal-style trackers to record details not covered in the other trackers. Journal-style trackers can also help you reflect on the entire month.4

Together, these trackers give a full picture of your wellness.4

Mood-tracking apps

There are several mood-tracking apps available for people with bipolar disorder. Researchers have found that people with bipolar disorder want mood-tracking apps that meet certain requirements. The apps should:3

  • Be personalized
  • Be adjustable
  • Offer a way to connect with help early

A mood-tracking app may ask you to list your goals for using the app. You will have the option of when to log in your mood. You will be asked to rate your level of anxiety or depression. You may be asked whether you had therapy that day or how many hours you slept.5,6

A 2021 study found that people with bipolar disorder had a less negative mood while using a specific mood-tracking app. And they had less impulsive behavior at the end of the study compared to when they began using the app.7

Many mood-tracking apps have a resource section. There you can find the number for a crisis hotline or how to connect with a support group.5

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.