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appAs a therapist, I know how important understanding your moods are is. I will often ask the people I work with how their mood has been.

Usually people will give a one or two word answer that mainly represents how they’re feeling now rather than thinking through their whole week. Sometimes someone will say that the beginning of the week was rough, but they feel better now. What I’m really curious to know is how their mood has changed throughout the week, and if there were extenuating circumstances that preceded the mood change.

But here’s the problem. Personally, I can’t think back to last Wednesday and remember how I was feeling or what was going on then. And for the most part, unless something different or monumental takes place, this is how most people’s brains work.

So what is the solution? Some people write down their feelings and the events in their lives in a journal or diary. This is a great idea, but it can be difficult to implement because you need your journal or diary to be with you most of the time to get an accurate assessment.

Thanks to app developers, there are many apps available to keep track of your mood using your cell phone. Some are free, some cost a dollar or two. But which is best? It all depends on what you need.

For two weeks, I reviewed five different apps for tracking moods. Here is my take on this. And remember, this is not a comprehensive list, and I am writing from my point of view. Here are the apps I tried.

iMoodJournal: FREE. Uses touch ID, has reminders you can set, beautiful graphs, and allows you to track and see long-term changes in mood, and has space for journaling. It also allows you to keep track of your medications and your sleep. You can also change the words to record your mood. If you’re bipolar, you might change “really great” to “manic”or “hypomanic”  Unlike a couple of the other mood apps, this does not have a social aspect to it. It’s always private. It does allow you to export it into a PDF so you can easily share it with your therapist or doctor.

Moodtrack: FREE, can upgrade for $0.99. The free version forces you to have your posts public. For this reason, Moodtrack stresses to choose a screen name that does not include your real name. If you want some or all of your posts to be private, it will cost you $0.99. This app also uses touch ID. The graphing is pretty cool, but it only has 5 choices to rank your mood, from worst to best. You write how you feel, journal about it if you’d like, then rank it. All of this information is compiled in a line graph. The strongest part of Moodtrack is the social aspect. It’s anonymous, and people respond to other’s comments and moods. You can “follow” others, and they can follow you back. People tend to be supportive of one another. You can also share your mood diary through text or email if you’re so inclined.

MyMoodTracker Lite: FREE, $4.99 to upgrade. If you like cute emoticons, this is the best app. If you’re like me and prefer straight out words, this will drive you nuts. There are smilies all over, and there were several occasions when I had a mood but there wasn’t a emoticon to represent it. What’s interesting is that MyMoodTracker allows you to add things that affect your mood, like stimulants, medications, and sleep.

Optimism: FREE. Optimism is an app that records a great deal of data. You can track sleep, exercise, negative self-talk, caffeine consumption, alcohol, and life changes, to name just a few. It also is password protected, and you can be reminded to enter in your mood during the day. In my eyes, Optimism runs the risk of having too many choices. The format is more complicated that I like. It can be confusing, especially when you’re feeling emotional.

Stigma: $1.99. I found this to be very awkward when recording moods. Hashtags are for recording different mental states, and you can make as many of these as you want (which is similar to MoodTrack There is the social aspect as well, but I did not find it as polished as Moodtrack. It has great reminders, and you can set as many as you want.

In the end, the two that I have found the most helpful and would suggest to my clients are iMoodJournal and Moodtrack.

No matter what tool you use to track your moods, you’ll find having a place to record your thoughts and feelings beneficial.

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