Longitudinal mood monitoring in bipolar disorder: Course of illness as revealed through a short messaging service.
McKnight RF., Bilderbeck AC., Miklowitz DJ., Hinds C., Goodwin GM., Geddes JR.
BACKGROUND: Online self-monitoring of mood can be used to investigate differences in course patterns across patient groups. This study explored the feasibility of remote symptom capture with True Colours, a self-rated online mood monitoring tool completed on a weekly basis. METHODS: Participants with bipolar disorder (N = 297) completed weekly depression and mania questionnaires over an average of 27.5 months (range 1 -81 months). Subgroups defined by sex, age, and bipolar I vs. II status were compared on time in various mood states, number of episodes, and week-to-week mood variability. RESULTS: Compliance with weekly questionnaires was generally high (median, 92% of weeks). Mood symptoms occurred for an average of 55.4% of weeks across the follow-up period. Females spent more time with hypomanic/manic and depressive symptoms and had more depressive episodes compared to males. Younger participants were found to experience more hypomanic/manic episodes and showed greater variability in mood symptoms than older participants. No significant differences in mood symptoms or variability were observed between bipolar I and II patients. LIMITATIONS: This was a naturalistic study with a heterogeneous cohort, and did not include a control group. True Colours does not identify mood fluctuations that may occur in the days between weekly assessments. CONCLUSIONS: Monitoring moods through an online tool is both feasible and informative regarding course of illness in patients with bipolar disorder. Interventions aiming to reduce mood variability and manic/hypomanic episodes in the early phases of bipolar disorder may enhance the long-term symptomatic course of the illness.