Monday, 30 May 2011

Moodscope

Last week, a friend told me about Moodscope after she'd heard about it on the radio. She thought it might be something I'd find useful to help understand my own moods.

Moodscope.com is an online resource that helps measure, rate and record your mood on a daily basis. The front page has an entertaining and informative little video about the website and how it works. To actually use it, you have to sign up, which is pretty simple and only requires a few personal details. It is free, at the moment, the video elludes to the fact that this is only while the service is undergoing beta testing, so at some point it might start to cost, but that's not something to put you off trying it out now.
I've been using it for about 5 days now, and I quite like it. There are two aspects in particular that I think are good about it.
Firstly, I like that it provides a simple but (apparently) psychological proven test for assessing mood, which involves using cards to determine how you feel in relation to a range of emotions (how upset, distressed, active, enthusiastic etc you are feeling). I know that I am quite bad at consistently assessing my own mood, saying I feel 3 (on a 1 - 10 scale) doesn't mean I feel the same as last time I felt 3, and there is no reliable comparison between days I feel 3 and days I feel 6, that is, 6 days aren't necessarily twice as good as 3 days. I also get caught up in technicalities and, as my therapist will testify, I can get very specific, breaking my moods down in half points sometimes. As such, the fact that the website tests and calcualtes a mood score for you is helpful. Also, the fact that these scores are calculated on a consistent scale and then saved and plotted on a graph for you is very beneficial, particularly for people with depression, as it can be easy to forget good days and dwell on bad days. Having a graph showing your mood fluctuations can remove no doubt that there have been better days. You can also add notes to your graph, detailing particular events or other information relevant to your mood, so you can start to see things that are particularly influential in lifting or lowering your mood.
The second feature that really stands out to me, is the ability to add buddies. Moodscope encourages you to add friends as buddies, who will receive an email with your score every time you take the test (hopefully, daily). Sometimes it is hard to expalin your mood to people, if you even reach out and try to communicate how you feel in the first place. This encourages other people to take an interest in how you're doing and to help support you through your ups and downs. Obviosuly you will want to select your buddies carefully, no one like to feel they're imposing on anyone, but often those close to you will be more than happy to be supportive and be included in your life (we often shut out our loved ones when we are depressed, even if we don't realise it). I have my mum, my boyfriend and my best friend (who also has problems with depression) as my buddies, I haven't yet worked up courage to ask anyone else yet, to fill my remaining two buddy positions (you are limited to 5 buddies, but you can also send a link to your graph to other people yourself).
The website does provide advice, of sorts, and motivational comments alongside your scores. I haven't really been using the site long enough to properly comment on the value of this 'advice', but my initial impression is that it's a bit lack lustre and very generic (which is quite obvious, as it mass produced and not personal). I suppose it's still nice to be told you're doing well, even if it is by computer generated message.

While I like, and will continue to use, Moodscope, it isn't perfect and there are things I would change if it were up to me. The most notable thing I would like to see, is the ability to record more than one score per day. I think you can take the test more than once a day, but the new score will replace the old one. I often find that my mood is far from consistent througout the day, so being able to take the test and record notes at multiple occassions would provide a much more complete and accurate picture of my moods. I'm also not totally sold on the way it measures mood, it is clearly more acurate than my own assessments of myself, but I feel it may be better to measure mood on a range of different factors, rather than one overall score. I feel that being very high or very low on a few aspects of the test, or having an unusual combination of ups and downs (which can happen with depression) may lead to an inaccurate overall score.

Those points aside, I would still recommend you check Moodscope out and try it for at least a few days or a week, whether you think it can benefit you or someone you know. If you are added as a buddy, it might also be beneficial to try it out yourself, to give a sense of scale for your friends mood score, 20% might not seem very low, but if you take the test and find you are 80%, you'll probably have a better idea of how low your buddy is feeling. Also, don't forget to check on them, receiving the emails isn't enough, ask what's wrong if they're feeling low and congratualte them when they're doing well. Always be supportive.

Hope you're well,
Betty
x

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