Friday, 28 March 2014

Mood Charts and Tracking Symptoms

(The following has been revised and updated from my original mood charts post)
What do you do if you think you have PMDD?  What if you've spotted the symptoms and a pattern, but your doctor doesn't know about PMDD or has never mentioned it?
The only way to convince anyone you are suffering from cyclical symptoms is by filling in a mood chart.

I say convince, as a lot of the time, the fear is that no one is going to believe you.  If you have suffered for many years, and no medical professional has ever asked you if there is a pattern, then how do YOU know better than your doctor?  Well, you DO know better than your doctor when it comes to symptoms, but short of your doctore living with your for a month, you have to be able to prove what is going on.  If you see a pattern forming, then all you have to do is get a mood chart filled out over 3 months, so you can SHOW your GP how it comes and goes.
By noting your symptoms and severity, along with your menstrual cycle, it is easier to see patterns forming and for doctors to diagnose PMDD.  No one can deny a set of painstakingly filled in mood charts that over 3 months, show a definite connnection to your menstrual cycle.

You have to be strict with yourself and make sure you do this EVERYDAY, or at the very least the morning after, trying to be as accurate about how you felt as possible.  Make notes of the boxes don't explain it well enough, or keep an 'emotions' diary and actually write small notes about your day.  That way you can often find and connect any outside influence triggers that increase the PMDD symptoms.
 There are many free resources online, including printable mood charts. Printable worked for me as I filled it in in the evening and could keep it safe, or up on the kitchen cupboard door to remind me. It also means you automatically have something to show your doctor.

I used the chart in the book by Diana Dell - The PMDD Phenomenom, as it gave me the option to fill in how bad things were too (by colouring 1, 2 or 3 boxes), so rather than just a yes or no, I could monitor slightly off moods to more intense, severe moods.  This book was the first book I read about PMDD.  I think it is out of print, but you may be able to find a second hand copy).  It's a good book, although may be a little dated now.  Having said that, little has changed since it was published.
Dont be put off by charts that are called Bi-polar or depression mood charts. It's not the name that matters, but the information you track. Just find a chart that works for you.
You may want to try an online/interactive mood charts. Some require membership, but some are free. If you are at the computer a lot, then this might be a better way for you to record you moods each day. Obviously this means making sure you can print everything out to take to the doctors, and that you will always have access to a computer to keep it updated. I can't stress the importance of filling everything in EVERYDAY for at least 3 months. It's the best way for an outsider to know whats been going on up in there, and help you to diagnose your condition.

There is a very modern way of tracking your moods, if you happen to be the proud owner of an iPhone or Smartphone! Just search the app store for 'mood tracker', 'iPeriod' or 'period tracker' and take your pick! I have used Period Tracker (paid version), and it's very simple to use. It's hard to find a tracker that does all the things you want, but it worked pretty good for me. I now have an android phone and am using Womanlog Pro, but there are many others, such as Ovuview, Pink Pad and My period and Ovulation. Most have free downloads, I advise you trial the free version before you pay for one, just to make sure it works for you.
As a side note, my husband downloaded an app called The PMS Alert  I tell him my first day of my period and he taps it into his phone.  He now gets a phone alert when I am entering into my pre menstrual phase, and it's pretty accurate.  It gives him a heads up without me having to say anything.  What I really need now is for one that alerts him to ovulation time, as that can be a challenging time for me to, but all in all, the The PMS Alert app has really helped.
With so many options, we are spoilt for choice! There is definately no excuse NOT to be tracking your moods and symptoms.... so, Get tracking!  I have included a few links, but there are many many more out there.  I hope to include a printable chart from this site in the near future.

Mood Tracker - Free
NAPS Interactive Mood Chart - Free, membership required.
My Monthly Cycles - Paid subscription for good resources, Limited free account.


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