How Symptom Trackers Work
What are Symptom Trackers?
Symptom trackers are designed to track symptoms as well as other life events which may impact how you are feeling. Symptom trackers can be used to monitor symptom severity, emotional or environmental triggers, early signs of relapse, or adherence to medications.
How can Symptom Trackers benefit me?
Symptom trackers can be used to provide information to a healthcare professional, to reduce missed diagnoses and ensure proper treatment. Imagine you visit your doctor and they ask you how you have been feeling over the past two months – it can be hard to remember exactly how you have been over that period of time, and to recall symptoms on a particular day or week. If you have been tracking your symptoms, you can have an accurate log of how things have been going, which you can share with your doctor and provide a wealth of information to them.
Symptom Trackers can also be used for personal use, for those who wish to closely monitor their own symptoms and identify what may help or trigger low moods, anxiety, etc.
Can I get the same benefits from doing this online and on my smartphone?
Traditionally, people tracked their symptoms using pen and paper. Using apps or online programs to track is a more convenient solution. Most trackers provide lists of symptoms which users can choose from. Many tracking apps also have the advantage of allowing users to set reminders, so they are reminded to log symptoms every day, a task which can be easily forgotten or overlooked.
One study explored the benefits of monitoring mood, stress and coping using a smartphone app (Kauer et al., 2012). Young people aged 14-24 with mental health concerns self-monitored for 2-4 weeks. The study found that self-monitoring helped increase emotional self-awareness, which in turn decreases depressive symptoms.
Self management approaches, involving people in their own change, have had considerable success among those with long term illnesses (e.g., Lorig, Ritter & Plant, 2005) but have received less research attention in relation to mental health.