App helps patients with depression, psychiatrists manage mood, activity levels

August 11, 2015
Recognizing that patients often forget how their moods vary between visits, a team from the University of Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation has developed a smartphone application that lets users log their moods and symptoms and share that data with their psychiatrists. Credit: MU Health

Approximately 16 million American adults are affected by depression. However, many patients see a psychiatrist only once every two to three months. Recognizing that patients often forget how their moods vary between visits, a team from the University of Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation has developed a smartphone application that lets users log their moods and symptoms and share that data with their psychiatrists.

"Some patients keep a mood diary during their treatment, which can be helpful in assessing their well-being," said Ganesh Gopalakrishna, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the MU School of Medicine and a psychiatrist at MU Health Care. "But I thought that there must be a better way to record moods and activity. That led to the development of the MoodTrek app, which allows patients to log their moods, sleep patterns and between appointments. People tend to forget what their moods were like just a few days ago, but through this app, I can now see that data and can use it to provide the best care possible."

Gopalakrishna worked with Sriram Chellappan, a computer science faculty member at Missouri S&T, to create the app. The two, along with Missouri S&T's technology transfer and economic development staff, coordinated development of the app with the Tiger Institute.

The free MoodTrek app gives patients a sense of how they're doing on a daily basis. Behavioral health has been linked to factors such as a person's sleep and exercise levels, and the app helps users recognize what affects their mood.

Users of the app are able to record their moods on a scale of one to five by selecting the appropriate "smiley face" icon that matches their current feelings. By linking the app to a Fitbit activity tracker, users can integrate their sleep and exercise activity, which is then shared with their provider. If a patient is seen by a provider who uses a Cerner-developed electronic medical record, the information is uploaded instantaneously to their medical records. Users also can download reports of their mood, sleep and exercise activities to bring to their visits.

Kody Ihnat, a mathematics and physics student at the University of Missouri, has been using MoodTrek since January. Ihnat struggles with depression, but she has seen an improvement in her mental well-being since using the app.

"I update my mood at least once a day," Ihnat said. "It forces you to take time for self-analysis and really reflect to find out why you're feeling the way you do."

In addition to recording mood, sleep and activity, the app has a journaling feature that lets users record notes they can then share with their psychiatrists. The app also includes a helpline that can connect the user with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

"My family is very much comforted by the fact that I have something in my pocket that is looking out for me and allows me to be in touch with my doctor," Ihnat said.

As its name implies, the MoodTrek app is a journey for both the patient and the provider. By understanding how activity, sleep and mood interact, both the patient and the provider can take steps toward better health outcomes.

"It's helping you help yourself and helping the doctor help you," Ihnat said. "I've certainly enjoyed using it, and I've definitely seen an improvement in my mood and mental state."

MoodTrek is available for free on Android devices, with plans to bring the app to Apple devices in the future. To download the , please visit:

Explore further: New app helps monitor depression

Related Stories

New app helps monitor depression

February 27, 2015
Scientists from the University of Birmingham have developed an app that can measure the activity patterns of patients with depression and provide the necessary support.

New smartphone app warns drinkers if they go over recommended daily/weekly units

July 6, 2015
A new smartphone app warns drinkers if they go over the recommended maximum daily/weekly units of alcohol, to help them better manage their intake, reveals a commentary published in the online journal BMJ Innovations.

FDA launches first app to identify drug shortages

March 6, 2015
(HealthDay)—A mobile phone application (app) has been released to identify current drug shortages, resolved shortages, or discontinuations of drug products, according to a press release published by the U.S. Food and Drug ...

Recommended for you

Children with fragile X syndrome have a bias toward threatening emotion

August 23, 2017
Anxiety occurs at high rates in children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common form of inherited intellectual disability. Children with co-occurring anxiety tend to fare worse, but it can be hard to identify in infants. ...

So-called "bright girl effect" does not last into adulthood

August 23, 2017
The notion that young females limit their own progress based on what they believe about their intelligence—called the "bright girl effect"—does not persist into adulthood, according to new research from Case Western Reserve ...

Like adults, children show bias in attributing mental states to others

August 22, 2017
Young children are more likely to attribute mental states to characters that belong to the same group as them relative to characters that belong to an outside group, according to findings published in Psychological Science, ...

High moral reasoning associated with increased activity in the human brain's reward system

August 22, 2017
Individuals who have a high level of moral reasoning show increased activity in the brain's frontostriatal reward system, both during periods of rest and while performing a sequential risk taking and decision making task ...

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience

August 22, 2017
Many people report positive health effects from practicing yoga and meditation, and experience both mental and physical benefits from these practices. However, we still have much to learn about how exactly these practices ...

Wealth disparity and family income impact the brain development of female youth

August 22, 2017
Female teenagers living in neighbourhoods with wide salary gaps and a low-income household show changes to their brain maturation that could indicate a higher risk of developing mental illness in adulthood, suggests a recently ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.