I was very excited to learn about, and to try, the new mood tracker on MedHelp (http://www.medhelp.org/land/mood-tracker
). It’s easy to use, and quite attractive, but more importantly, it has the potential to be extremely useful for so many members of MedHelp, especially those who are taking psychotropic medications.
I am the mental health expert who answers questions on the mental health forum, and so many of them are about the effects and side effects of medications for mood and anxiety. If those members had been using the mood tracker they would be able to see how their moods changed in response to the medications and separate that out from how their moods changed in response to the daily events at work or home.
That’s a very important distinction that most people don’t make, or find it hard to make. We want anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication to do more than it can. It isn’t a magic pill…it can only be a powerful influencer of brain chemistry that elevates mood and diminishes anxiety. It can keep you from being overwhelmed by these powerful emotions, but it is not a substitute for the good hard problem solving that is required to meet the challenges of daily life. The pills can work on your brain but you have to work on your life.
The temptation is to become too dependent on the medication to fix you and become lazy about the work you need to do to stay on top of things. If you become lazy, or something happens that you don’t want to deal with, the frustrations pile up inside you. You feel down and temporarily defeated. You jump to the wrong conclusion and conclude that your medication isn’t working, ask to switch it, or add another or increase the dose, when instead you should be working on the frustrations that are creating addition internal tension.
When this happens, patients often find themselves on too many medications with too many side effects, and too many changes. I see this all too often. It can be avoided.
If you are using antidepressants or anti- anxiety medications, I encourage you to try this new tool . It will help you observe and record and remember your observations. Then when you have to sort out what is causing a mood change, you will have the information you need to decide whether a medication adjustment is required;or you have to some more psychological work and clear thinking to meet the challenges of your life. That’s a distinction that can make a big difference!