a woman looking at her phoneTracking your mood, medicines, and symptoms is a critical piece of managing depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. You can go out and buy a paper journal every three months like I do, but there’s a much more efficient way. A fantastic selection of mood apps designed for the smartphone exist on the market today. Their features allow you to better understand patterns of behavior and thoughts, especially as they relate to factors such as sleep, diet, stress levels, and exercise regimes. It can be overwhelming to sort through all the possibilities, so I’ve done some homework for you, so I’ve made a list of my top six. Happy mood tracking! Please note that these apps should not be used as substitutes for professional help, but the data can be easily shared with your doctor.

1. MoodKit

This app was developed by two clinical psychologists (the co-creators of Moodnotes) and draws upon the principles and techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy. CNET’s review said “It’s like having your own portable psychologist … packed with tools designed to improve not just your mood, but also your overall well-being.” Some special features include:

  • Exportable Mood Charts with 7 & 30-day views
  • Unlimited mood ratings and notes per day
  • Over 200 mood improvement activities
  • Saves exportable notes to a central journal
  • A Thought Checker, which  helps you to manage negative feelings related to a specific situation

Moodkit costs $4.99.

2. What’s My M3?

M3 is a screening tool, a three-minute checklist to assess your risk of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and PTSD. The screen responses and analysis can then be accessed online by a health care professional or emailed directly to a doctor. The information expedites and organizes a discussion between you and your doctor, helping to achieve a more accurate diagnosis and assessment of issues. Once the user has completed the screen, they are encouraged to record their progress on a biweekly basis for the first month and monthly thereafter. The M3 website provides patient forms for the monitoring of progress and potential side-effects of medications. M3 is unique in that it’s the only self-administered clinical tool that integrates patient self-rating of symptoms covering all of the major mood and anxiety disorders, and is the first instrument of its kind to include patient education and monitoring of patient information and side-effects during the course of treatment. The app is free.

3. PTSD Coach

PTSD Coach was created by the US Department of Veteran Affair’s National Center for PTSD in partnership with the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and has been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world. Originally designed for veterans and military members who have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this app provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, and resources for support. It offers a range of tools helping persons to better manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD, such as relaxation techniques, self-talk strategies, and ideas for anger management. Users can customize the tools and integrate them with their contacts, personal photos, and music selections. The app is free.

4. Breathe2Relax

Breathe2Relax is a stress reduction and stress management tool that provides information on the detrimental effects of stress on the body as well as instructions on how to decrease and manage it. For example, users learn diaphragmatic breathing that has been documented to reduce the body’s fight-or-flight stress response and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety. Users record their stress level on a visual analogue scale by swiping a small bar to the left or to the right. The app includes sophisticated graphics, animation, narration, and videos to deliver an enjoyable experience. Developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app is free.

5. Optimism

Optimism is a mood-charting app that helps you to develop and monitor health strategies, learn your triggers, and recognize early warning signs of a decline in your mental health. The user-friendly charts and reports can be immediately emailed or are available within the app and form a feedback loop, which helps you to pick up on what factors help your mental health and which ones impair it. Optimism allows you to document a wellness plan that details your emotional health strategies and appropriate steps in the event of a setback. The app is free.

6. Priori

This app isn’t available on the market yet, but it was worth including in this list because the remarkable technology can monitors a user’s mood by recording his or her phone calls. By analyzing speech patterns—subtle qualities of a person’s voice—the app can detect signs of the start of mood episode. For example, slow speech and frequent long pauses might indicate depression, and fast, loud speech could indicate hypomania. In a pilot study of six people with bipolar disorder, the app was able to distinguish manic or depressed moods based on an analysis of a person’s speech. University of Michigan psychiatrist Melvin McInnis, M.D., who developed Priori with computer scientists Zahi Karam, Ph.D. and Emily Mower Provost, Ph.D., was quoted in a Wired article saying, “The question isn’t whether or not this technology is going to be used in healthcare and monitoring individuals with psychiatric illnesses. The question is really: How?” More testing is still needed before the app is available for widespread use. Learn more about the app here.

Join Project Hope & Beyond, a new depression community.


PHOTO: Tim Robberts/Getty Images

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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6 Responses
  1. Pinkpinkpink

    Thank you Therese. I am going to check these out and start using one. Once again, great information.

  2. Hi Therese! Thank you for this list! Your reviews are very thoughtful and helpful. I’m currently working on an app to help people track their mood, medications, and overall health. I think it would make a great addition to your list. It’s called Wellness: http://getwellness.co/appstore

  3. 4Energy

    Therese: Your other site, the one found when googling “depression and getting out of bed,” provides links (indicated in blue lettering) that promise further information. Unfortunately, when sent to those links, a “possible virus; danger” page appears. I hope this can be fixed. I’d like to safely visit those sites.

  4. 4Energy

    Therese: Your other site, the one found when googling “depression and getting out of bed,” provides links (indicated in blue lettering) that promise further information. Unfortunately, when I go to those sites, a “possible virus; danger” page appears. I’d like to be able to safely visit those sites.

  5. Teresa

    Thank you for your article on the best mood apps. Just an FYI, the Optimism app is no longer available. When it ended, I even tried to contact the developer to purchase it. I used it for years and it was the best out there.

  6. Melissa

    I have downloaded a mood app called MoodPath…and I am not sure if it is helping or not. Really its supposed to just help you track your moods and then provide you with a letter to take to your dr to request help if it determines that you meet criteria for depression. Mine says right now that over the last 7 days I have been “hardly distressed”. It asks me question 3 times a day and gives me a limited set of emotions and reasons for my feelings and then I can state if I feel Very Good, Good, Moderate, Bad or Very Bad. Mostly I have been moderate because if I can function which is can each day I can typically not bring myself to post that I am bad or very bad. I have had some days where I listed myself as good but even on those days the emotion I listed most is tired…rarely do I feel happy, relieved, enthusiastic or any of the other generic “good” emotions listed. SO now I am wondering am I really depressed or just a whiner. Maybe I am just making it up and I am just a complainer who isn’t really that bad off and needs to just suck it up. Everybody has bad days right? So how do I know? How can I be sure I’m not just a whiny person? Because the last thing I want is to be seen that way by my husband and kids and family. Maybe I just need to focus on being happier. But idk how because even when I do it doesn’t help. Some days are just not good…most days are “moderate” where I can function but still feel tired and vaguely sad. IDK what to do.