Medical Q&As

Mood journal - beneficial?

I saw an article recently that suggested keeping a mood journal. What is this and how would I go about it? I am suffering from severe depression that is proving difficult to treat.

A mood journal is a form of diary in which you document how you are feeling. It is claimed that it can be helpful in putting you in touch with your feelings. When you notice a change in your mood you are supposed to write down the change in mood, what you were doing at the time, who you were with and what you were thinking about at the time. It is also suggested that you document the time and date of these changes. Over time the journal expands and contains a comprehensive record, which is supposed to help to make you more self-aware. I don’t deny that such an exercise could be helpful when used in conjunction with therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy. However, I would have the gravest of doubts about using it as a self-help therapy because it could be a very negative experience to be plunged into an exercise of documenting severe negative emotions. I would be concerned about the negative impact of such introspection in a person who may already be suffering from very low self-esteem and very depressed mood. I would not recommend it as a solitary exercise but do agree that it could be very helpful when used in conjunction with other therapies. In other words it can have merit when used as part of a therapeutic strategy when engaged with a therapist who can provide constructive comment and enable you to benefit from the recording exercise.