Mood apps

Record your feelings on your mobile phone!

Mood apps: Taking smartphones beyond games, photos, music…

Apps for iphones and androids

In a market dominated by games, photography, music and other forms of entertainment, mood apps offer a real breakthrough for a better understanding of moods and improved patient/doctor communication.

Mood apps” are a thoughtful breakaway from the traditionally best-selling apps available for iphones and androids.

Ever since smartphones flooded the marketplace, there’s been a deluge of apps to fill all possible needs and appetites for games, photography, music and more.

But mood apps are among the first and most important to offer us a glimpse of what apps can do to improve our physical and mental health and welfare.

So many modern-day ailments, as well as behavior that is abusive to ourselves and/or others, are linked to stress, moods and emotions: insomnia, obesity, depression, high blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, mania, to name a few.

In general terms, mood apps allow you – or your patients – to use a combination daytimer/calendar/notebook built into a smartphone to track life’s stressors and record them to see how they relate to episodes of, for example, binge eating, drinking or drug abuse, depression, lack of sleep, mania, and so on.

You can  record your feelings throughout the day (e.g. contentment, mania, anxiety, depression), as well as keep notes on activities such as diet and exercise, taking daily medication, relaxation.

Some apps allow for you to report with whom you spent time on a given day as well as where you went. The latter can be a general location (e.g. from New Jersey into NYC) or more specific (to the university, to the gym, visited your mother).

The best mood apps allow this data to be turned into graphs, which can be emailed directly from the smartphone to the health professional doing the follow-up.

Over time, this data can reveal a multitude of new information.

For example, it might show that a regular bi-weekly hospital visit to an aging relative causes a great deal of stress, leading to insomnia and recurring depression.

Or it might show that taking night classes and going to the gym, combined with using the daytimer to remember to take prescribed medication, has helped increase self-confidence, self-esteem and improve one’s mood.

Or an increase in drug or alcohol use may be found to be linked to visits to specific neighborhoods.

Of course, these are only examples to highlight the possibilities offered by the new smartphone mood apps.

Since we all have stress and ups and downs in our moods, using a mood app as a daily journal can help us all to have an ongoing insight into our physical and mental health.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Preface | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mood apps: Which one is right?

What features are included with your mood app?

Do your research. Each mood app comes with a different set of features. You want all the benefits and yet also have an app that’s simple enough for you to use it every day.

In our opening Mood Apps post, we began to outline some of the reasons why such technology can be beneficial for so many people. And to highlight some of the features that can help improve your life.

One of the problems in making your selection: you want a mood app without much of a learning curve, otherwise you may never get around to using it.

It has to be simple enough to be user-friendly right out of the box. You should download it to your iphone or android and immediately feel at home using the major features in the first few days of trying it out.

The manufacturers recognize that this sort of simple and friendly interface is key to their success…

– so some of them have added music

– some have made their app an interactive game

– but most of them have limited their features in an effort to create an app that’s easy to learn and use.

Thus, in choosing the right mood app for you, you have to consider what features each app has, but it’s also equally important what features each app is missing.

By compiling a list of the best features and the missing features, we’ll be able to narrow down our list of Mood Apps to the one that’s best for you.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Intro | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mood apps: Build a better mood app

We are going to build a better mood app.Build a better mood app

To do our research, we are going to examine the pros and cons of the top mood apps currently in existence.

We will incorporate the best of the pros, and reverse the most significant cons, so all become features of the mood app we create.

Have you used a mood app? We welcome your comments.

In each of the following posts, we will detail one of the top mood apps.

We will include features of the app, what critics say is missing from the app, our notes on the app and, finally, which pros and reversed cons we feel should be incorporated to build a better mood app.

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Mood app creation | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mood apps: Mood Reporter for iphone ****

Features:Mood apps - 3 images of Mood Reporter app

  • – displays date and time
  • – enter # of hours of sleep
  • – enter choice of 3 types of stressors: work, health or relationship
  • – enter type of medication
  • – enter daily mood by color – depression (blue), anxiety (yellow), mania (red)
  • – rotate phone to see moods charted on graph
  • – charts can be emailed directly from iphone to doctor

What’s missing?:

  • – lacks details for you to accurately chart your history
  • – entry can only be made once daily, so you can’t record mood swings throughout the day, quality of sleep, other types of stressors and moods, if medication taken morning and night, etc.
  • – doesn’t provide for where you are or whom you are with
  • – could use a daily journal/diary or, at least, a way to keep notes.
  • – little online information. Website is still under construction.

Notes:

A strong, well-thought contender in this category, particularly for its ability to turn daily moods into graphs that can be emailed directly to the doctor from the patient’s iphone. However the once-daily entry is limiting and the app lacks much of the “who, what, when, where, why and how” to make it a true Mood Reporter.

Mood app creation:

Benefits of the Mood Reporter app which can help us build a better mood app:

  • – you can enter your moods by color – depression (blue), anxiety (yellow), mania (red)
  • – if you rotate your phone you can see your daily moods charted on a graph
  • – these charts can be emailed directly from your iphone to your doctor

Drawbacks of the Mood Reporter which can teach us how to build a better mood app:

  • – entry can only be made once daily – Solution: allow for multiple entries throughout the day; provide a daytimer, journal and/or notebook.
  • – only shows 3 moods, 3 types of stressors, type of medication – Solution: allow for more moods and mood levels; show quality of sleep, more types of stressors, if medication taken morning and night.
  • – doesn’t provide for where you are or whom you are with – Solution: allow for reporting of more details: who, what, when why, how.
  • – little online information – Solution: provide a website with information and video tutorials.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Iphone, Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mood apps: gottaFeeling for iphones ****

Features:gottaFeeling mood app for iphones

  • – gottaFeeling is a mood app with some unique benefits, most of all that it was created by Alicia Morga, an incredibly driven, educated and successful entrepreneur who created the app to help her manage her own emotions.
  • – helps you identify, express and manage your emotions. According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, this forms the foundation for learning and making decisions. It is the platform on which other essential skills, like reading, writing, math, even social skills are built. As it is a skill, it has to be taught and continually practiced.
  • – app pings you randomly throughout the day and asks: “Hi. How do you feel?”
  • – it then offers you 10 broad categories of emotion. Pick one and you then see a comprehensive vocabulary of words describing each level of your emotion – more than almost any other app.
  • – you can also track where you are and the date and time you felt that emotion.
  • – calendar to which you can add built-in reminders
  • – the app keeps track of every feeling you log, including the date, time, where you were and whom you were with, and creates a pie chart showing which feelings take up what % of your time.
  • – you can share your feelings with friends on social media (Facebook, Twitter) or by email.
  • – screen displays images related to each feeling and plus inspirational messages.

What’s missing?:

  • – as in education, business, and her life, Alicia Morga has once again succeeded. In this case, she’s created an app that helps uncover the widest range of feelings and offers possible solutions to help manage your emotions – a problem she struggled with for many years. Does that mean it’s the perfect app for everyone? Almost…
  • – numerous categories and a wide vocabulary, so the doctor and patient can better identify feelings/symptoms and expand upon them or personalize them.
  • – while the app covers a broad spectrum of “feelings” and “emotions”, it doesn’t seem directed toward those for whom “moods” – such as depression or mania – can be actual cause for alarm. Those who suffer from severe mood swings could be better served by a form of medical alert, rather than the ability to tweet their followers or send a message to all their email contacts. This isn’t a flaw in the app. More of a heads up to help you find the right app for your needs.

Notes:

This app offers a comprehensive understanding of feelings and emotions, but seems well-designed for young people in their teens and twenties.

While offering help to identify, express and manage everyday “feelings” and “emotions”, it doesn’t seem directed toward those for whom “moods” can be extreme and dangerous. Patients suffering from such mood disorders as depression, anxiety or mania might be better to consult with their doctor regarding the choice of an app.

Visit the gottaFeeling website and learn more about Alicia Morga.

Mood app creation:

Benefits of the gottaFeeling app which can help us build a better mood app:

  • – app pings you (randomly, but user sets how often) throughout the day and asks: “Hi. How do you feel?” This could be good for any type of illness or disorder, because it makes the patient stop and think about how they are feeling.
  • – numerous categories and a wide vocabulary, so the doctor and patient can better identify feelings/symptoms and expand upon them or personalize them.
  • – the app keeps track of every feeling you log, including the date, time, where you were and whom you were with.
  • – you can share your feelings by email.
  • – screen displays inspirational messages (this might be added to by text from discussions with doctor or from writings by authors who understand the symptoms/disorders.

Drawbacks of the Mood Reporter which can teach us how to build a better mood app:

  • – because Alicia Morga developed this app to solve emotional problems, it doesn’t cover the wide swing of mood swings and bipolar disorder. Although it does a great job for what it is intended, it may be a little too sugar-coated for people who may need emergency-level help during times of crisis. Solution: upgrade to cover a wider spectrum of feelings, emotions and moods.
  • – creates a pie chart showing which feelings take up what % of your time. Solution: line graph may provide much more detailed information.
  • – you can share your feelings with friends on social media (Facebook, Twitter). Solution: This could be more trouble than it is worth.
  • – screen displays images related to each feeling. Solution: Drop this due to time and expense.
  • – web site, but little online information – Solution: add more information and video tutorials to website.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Iphone, Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mood apps: T2 Mood Tracker for iphones and androids *****

A Pentagon Channel news brief describing the  T2 Mood Tracker from the U.S. Dept. of Defense

Features:

  • – one of the most popular and highly-rated mood apps.
  • – created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), a division of the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • – originally intended to help monitor the physical and mental issues of military personnel, but now freely available to the general public for both iphones and androids.
  • – the T2 Mood Tracker allows users to monitor their moods on six pre-loaded scales (anxiety, stress, depression, brain injury, post-traumatic stress, general well-being). Users rate their moods by swiping a small bar to the left or to the right. The ratings are displayed on graphs to help users track their moods over time. You can turn on and off each scale in the graph and custom scales can also be built.
  • – notes can be recorded to document daily events, medication changes and treatments that may be associated with mood changes, providing accurate information to help health care providers make treatment decisions.
  • – with each self-rating, notes on environmental influences on emotional experiences can be added. Self-monitoring results can be a self-help tool or they can be shared with a therapist or health care professional, providing a record of the patient’s emotional experience over a selected time frame.
  • – “Therapists and physicians often have to rely on patient recall when trying to gather information about symptoms over the previous weeks or months. Research has shown that information collected after the fact, especially about mood, tends to be inaccurate,” said Dr. Perry Bosmajian, a T2 psychologist. “This application can improve the quality of the treatments for the provider and the patient. The best record of an experience is when it’s recorded at the time and place it happens.”
  • – at Google’s online store for android apps, the average rating was 4.2/5 from 610 users. Of those, over half (317) gave it a full 5 stars and another 193 gave it a 4-star rating.

T2 Mood Tracker - one of the most popular and highest-rated mood apps

What’s missing?:

  • – with so many functions, it can eat up your mobile phone’s internal memory
  • – it would be more useful with an export feature
  • – some critics feel the interface, especially the Graph Results on its black background, is difficult to read and understand.
  • – needs the ability for secure exterior data storage, for example to store your data on an SD card. Currently, you can lose data installing an update or when you get a new phone.
  • – can’t create a report or back it up anywhere.

Notes:

Of all mood apps, the T2 Mood Tracker is definitely one of the most popular, enjoying tens of thousands of downloads. It also is one of the most highly-rated mood apps, despite the fact that some people dislike the interface. The only major drawback is that, as of this writing, you can lose all your stored data if you simply try and update the app or switch to a new phone. Hopefully this problem will be addressed promptly.

Mood app creation:

Benefits of the T2 Mood Tracker app which can help us build a better mood app:

  • – as one of the world’s most popular and highly rated mood apps – available for both iphones and androids – we should definitely study what the T2 Mood Tracker is doing right.
  • – the app monitors for six different moods, ranging from stress and depression to brain injury and general well-being, but can also be custom self-programmed for other symptoms and illnesses.
  • – ratings are displayed on graphs to help users track their moods over time. For clarity, specific scales in the graph can be turned on and off.
  • – notes can record daily events, medication changes and treatments  associated with mood changes, as well as environmental influences.
  • – the app keeps track of every feeling you log, including the date, time, where you were and whom you were with.

Drawbacks of the T2 Mood Tracker app which can teach us how to build a better mood app:

  • – complaints that the interface is difficult to read and work with, particularly the Graph Results. Solution: Re-design of this screen to make it more legible and user-friendly.
  • – universal complaints that data cannot be exported, placed on external storage, and that all personal stored data can be lost when one updates the app or upgrades their phone. Solution: allow for safe export and secure exterior storage of data.
  • – website and some online video, but military-style, so not very user-friendly. Solution: create a secondary site and additional videos for the public.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Android, Iphone, Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mood apps: MoodKit for iphones ****

Features:MoodKit mood app

  • – a mood app developed by two clinical psychologists, MoodKit is a unique and comprehensive program designed to help you apply the principles and techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – one of the most effective and scientifically-supported methods of psychotherapy – to your everyday life.
  • – with four integrated tools – Activities, Thought Checker, Mood Tracker and Journal – MoodKit helps you to engage in mood-enhancing activities, identify and change unhealthy thinking, rate and chart mood across time, and create journal entries using custom templates designed to promote well-being.
  • – innovative design enables it to be used on its own or to enhance professional treatment.
  • – includes over 150 recommended activities for mood improvement – complete with examples and tips – which can be tailored to individual needs.
  • – offers email, text, and Facebook sharing of activities, plus iPhone calendar integration.
  • – step-by-step guidance to identify, evaluate, and modify thoughts to reduce distress.
  • – easy entry of daily mood ratings – with 7- and 30-day display chart options (exportable) – and associated notes.
  • – saves all notes to a central location for viewing, sharing, or printing.
  • – over a dozen custom journal templates with prompts to guide entries.
  • – add your own mood improvement activities and journal templates.
  • – educational information and “how to” guidance provided throughout.

What’s missing?:

  • – MoodKit’s interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, if only because the app is so comprehensive.
  • – because of all the information, plus detailed instructions, often the type is quite small.
  • – also, you are never returned to where you left off, so it can be frustrating to always wind up at the main menu every time you restart the app.
  • – although this app is fine to help anyone through everyday ups and downs, it’s not really directed towards people suffering from severe mood swings or disorders.

Notes:

Despite any complaints, this is a very impressive app that can help relieve stress, achieve goals and enjoy a happier life. The more you use it, the more you will benefit. However, once again, you should perhaps look at different mood apps if you suffer from serious depression, anxiety or mania. Consult your doctor.

Mood app creation:

Benefits of the MoodKit app which can help us build a better mood app:

  • – a mood app developed by two clinical psychologists, MoodKit is a unique and comprehensive program designed to help you apply the principles and techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • – four integrated tools – Activities (over 150 mood-enhancing activities – complete with examples and tips – which can be customized for individuals), Thought Checker (to identify and change unhealthy thinking), Mood Tracker (to rate and chart moods across time) and Journal (to record daily entries), plus exportable 7- and 30-day charts.
  • – communication of data by text and email.
  • – app offers one of the most complete collections of educational information and “how to” guidance for users which can also be customized for doctors/patients.
  • – company makes the best use of website and promotion through online videos.

Drawbacks of the MoodKit app which can teach us how to build a better mood app:

  • – not intended for use by people with severe mood swings. Solution: upgrade content for use by all levels of mood tracking and disorders.
  • – interface is not user-friendly enough. Solution: when users switch on app, have them return to previous screen (where they left off). Edit text for larger type and easier comprehension. Instructions can be online, rather than filling space on the app.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Iphone, Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mood apps: Mood Barometer for iphones **

Features:Mood apps: Mood Barometer

  • – among the wide selection of mood apps available, Mood Barometer has very little going for it except a couple of original and interesting  ideas.
  • – like most mood apps, Mood Barometer allows you to keep track of your daily moods.
  • – it also allows you to add comments to your mood posts.
  • – but, once your post is done, it then gives you much wider results…
  • – it allows you to see the average moods of other people using the app, by date, by country, and divided by men and women.
  • – and you can see the moods of people around the world who are using the app.
  • – the social and community aspect of this “connection” can not be underrated, especially if it could be put to good use in helping people understand how many people feel like they do.

What’s missing?:

  • – there is very little information about the app online.
  • – even the company’s website has been shut down.
  • – with fewer people knowing about or using the app, the global data is losing significance.

Notes:

The dream of a worldwide community of people with mood swings through this app is a great idea, but not likely to happen with the lack of other features and promotion of this mood app.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Iphone, Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment