Hope & Harmony Headlines: Tracking Symptoms to Prevent Episodes

Last Updated: 13 Aug 2019

August 1, 2019   •   Volume 12, Issue 31
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Tracking Symptoms to Prevent Episodes

How are your sleuthing skills? If they’re rusty—or nonexistent—it’s time to get out the polish, because being your own detective when it comes to tracking mood swing symptoms can help manage, and perhaps prevent, an episode.

“Self-monitoring is possibly the single most important mechanism in changing any thought or behavior,” says Frederick Muench, PhD. “In fact, study after study has shown that simply monitoring your behavior is a powerful intervention in itself.”

In a study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, the odds of depression were 1.85 times greater in people who had low levels of self-monitoring behavior—defined as how they controlled their actions in social situations—than high levels of self-monitoring behavior. Researchers also believe self-monitoring assessments may offer insights into social skills, motivation, and self-awareness.

So where to begin? With a routine. Make tracking symptoms a daily ritual. Plenty of mobile apps offer prompts to supply information, but as long as you’re motivated, a blank page is a perfectly fine place to start.

What’s important is that you find what works for you—and stick with it. Consistently rating your moods between -5 (depressed) and +5 (manic) for at least a week, for example, will help you identify fluctuations and can bring to light patterns that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.

Julie Fast, bphope columnist and blogger, keeps a journal of her depression and mania thoughts and behaviors so she can go right into management mode when needed.

“By being my own detective and learning what the symptoms of each of my moods look like,” she says, “I am usually able to keep things from escalating.” Read more >>

A Natural Prescription for Inpatient Treatment

May 21, 2019, Burlington, VT—When it comes to inpatient treatment of a range of mental health and mood disorders—from anxiety and depression to acute psychotic episodes—physical exercise is so effective at alleviating patient symptoms that it could reduce patients’ time admitted to acute facilities and reliance on psychotropic medications.

“The general attitude of medicine is that you treat the primary problem first, and exercise was never considered to be a life-or-death treatment option,” explains lead researcher David Tomasi, from the University of Vermont.

An average of 95 percent of patients reported their moods improved after doing the structured exercises, while 63 percent of the patients reported being happy or very happy, as opposed to neutral, sad or very sad, after the exercises. Read more >>

How to Combat Perfectionism With Authenticity

Perfectionism compares ourselves against high standards that we are certain not to live up to––which only degrades our self-worth. So it’s about time we ditched perfectionism for good!

By Debbie Jacobs

Perfectionism comes with the expectation that we are flawless––but perfectionism itself is a flaw. Authenticity, however, is ‘perfect’. Being yourself takes a level of acceptance that we are not perfect, nor should we strive to be.

When we have an expectation of perfection, it does nothing but set us up for failure and invalidation. I once read a meme that said “Perfectionism is the highest form of self-abuse” and I agree. It sets us up to be hard on ourselves every time we are not perfect, or things don’t go our way––which is almost all the time! Perfectionism is a trap that we need to stop falling for. Read more >>

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