(short answer: no, but it will help you communicate better with your doctor)
There are over two hundred different diagnoses for mental health disorders. Getting the right one is a turning point on the path to proper treatment. Mental illness can be a tricky thing to nail down and misdiagnoses are not uncommon. So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting the right diagnosis?
Physical conditions can be diagnosed using techniques such as x-rays and blood tests. Unfortunately, because mental illness can’t be measured in this way yet, getting to the bottom of your symptoms can take some trial and error. Bipolar disorder for example, has a high misdiagnosis rate. It is most commonly misdiagnosed as unipolar depression, also referred to as clinical depression. One of the treatments for unipolar depression is antidepressants which could spell disaster for anyone with bipolar 1 disorder because they have the potential to induce mania. In addition, a misdiagnosis delays proper treatment and increases the risk of recurrence. And this is true of any medical issue. So, how does mood tracking fit into the picture?
The diagnostic and treatment process for mental disorders can vary from individual to individual, but it generally follows a couple common steps. One of the first involves an interview where the patient describes their symptoms and history to their doctor. This is where mood tracking comes in. With a mood tracking app like eMoods, you’re able to send a detailed report of your mood logs directly from the app to your doctor. This cuts out your subjective memory of how you think you felt and translates it into facts. Because there is often overlap in the symptoms between one disorder and another, this specificity gets you closer to the correct diagnosis.
The next step following diagnosis is developing a treatment plan. Let’s say for example, your doctor prescribes you medication and psychotherapy. Because eMoods lets you set up custom tracking points, you can add a point for each of these and log when you take the medication or attend a therapy session. Your data is then displayed in easy to read color coded graphs and charts. By comparing these various custom tracking points with any aspect of your mood, you’re able to see correlations between the two. This is important because it gives you and your doctor data on how the prescribed treatment is working, and the ability to correct the course if necessary. A third of patients misdiagnosed for bipolar will remain misdiagnosed for ten years. By tracking your treatment and your mood, you get closer to a correct diagnosis. In addition to custom tracking points, eMoods allows its users to enter time stamped notes throughout the day. This is especially helpful in identifying how your mood changes over the course of the day and possible triggers for these changes.
Although it doesn’t have the power to diagnose you, eMoods or another mood tracking app will help you communicate better with your doctor. Because diagnosing mental illness relies heavily on patient symptoms, getting accurate data on your mood, interactions with medications and therapy sessions puts you on a more direct path to the right diagnosis.
This post was written by Jack Pombriant, a contributor to eMoods. Jack Pombriant is a freelance writer, radio producer and musician. His website is located at jackpombriant.com.