By Gofire Staff
A survey from the experienced pollsters at the Pew Research Center shows that seven out of 10 American adults track a health indicator for themselves or others, and that the people who use technology—such as apps or wearable devices—have greater success with health tracking.
This growing trend of using tech tools to understand and improve ourselves is the foundation of the quantified self movement (QSM), a community devoted to “self-knowledge through numbers.”
Health-tracking apps allow us to measure and record our heart rate, calorie intake, menstrual cycles and sleep—and there’s a new option in mood-tracking apps. A 2018 study published by the American Medical Informatics Association found that by monitoring their emotions, users of mood-tracking apps “reported feeling more in control of their mood, making informed decisions with the goal to become happier, and becoming more confident and positive in their emotional well-being.”
Mood-tracking apps help people understand their emotional cycles so they can figure out strategies to improve mood throughout the day and better cope with stress.
About 10 percent of the participants in the study were using mood-tracking apps to help manage mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.
At Everyday Health, mental health advocate Therese Borchard highly recommends mood-tracking apps as a simple, efficient way to keep tabs on “patterns of behavior and thoughts, especially as they relate to factors such as sleep, diet, stress levels and exercise regimes.”
While she’s careful to note that these apps are intended to complement—not replace—professional help, she points out that the data you learn from the apps can be easily shared with your doctor.
Just like apps that track sleep or diet, mood-tracking apps can reveal patterns that allow users to understand why they feel the way they do. If users record that they felt less anxious or depressed when they had more social interaction or worked less, that could indicate they need more human contact or more downtime.
And while these mood-tracking apps can be powerful assets for those coping with mental illness, new specialized apps are coming out for people who are handling specific challenges, such as postpartum depression or the loss of a loved one. At a QSM conference, Dana Greenfield spoke about Leaning into Grief, a project in which she designed a tracking system to help her better understand her own grief around her mother’s death. She structured a logging form to identify a wide range of feelings “because she found that with grieving, she could feel sad, nostalgic and also happy at the same time.”
Although mental health and physical health are often viewed separately in Western society, science shows they are deeply intertwined. The World Health Organization states that “there is no health without mental health.” Because our emotional well-being is key to our health, mood-tracking apps have an important role to play in the quantified self movement.
When we designed the Gofire App, we knew that patients needed to be able to search for plant-based medicines that could help provide relief for anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other ailments in the same way that they could seek relief for back pain, headaches and menstrual cramps. The Gofire App provides access to a community science database, where people can learn from anonymous product reviews written by others who are tackling the same health challenges.
Mental health is human health, plain and simple. Whatever ailments you are dealing with, we’re proud to play a role in the pursuit of your well-being.
Download the Gofire App here.