#depression – Does self-tracking have an important role to play in the fight against depression?

Over the past few years there has been a minor explosion in the ability of your every day Jo to track all sorts of things that previously were difficult to track.

I have done it. I expect if you have a smart phone or tablet you may well have done it too. Even if not realising it!

For about the last year when I go out for a run a lunchtime I set the GPS based app in my phone going. As I go it gives updates on progress. Once finished it summarises my route, the highs and lows and results. This is great for monitoring progress over time and during a training session.

I got to thinking lately about the diary I kept early on in my fight with depression where I recorded my overall mood for the day, my meals, how much sleep I was getting and what exercise I achieved during the day.

This was all very useful to see any patterns of mood and emotion related triggers.

With my new iPad I decided to look up any apps that do similar things. There are a few out there. So I downloaded one a couple of weeks ago. It gives me the option to record throughout the day and not only overall daily mood. Within the short period I have been using the app I can already see patterns. Hence, it is fulfilling an important role I would struggle to do on my own with pencil and paper.

My butterfly mind (love that saying from my Nana) jumps to the future of professional healthcare help for mental health patients. Will self-tracking technologies enable the professional to better get a fix on what the issues, causes and effects are related to the condition and the remedies?

Will people take a more proactive approach to prevention. Monitoring their own mental states. Looking out for warning signs that otherwise go un-noticed. Then take action, perhaps through supportive software, to nip issues in the bud before they grow into bigger challenges.

For those suffering more severe challenges having a tracking/monitoring system supporting them and nudging them in the right direction might be the difference between making steady solid progress and suffering set backs.

What do you think?

Do you use any monitoring/tracking systems and if so how have you found them?

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