Managing Mental Illness: Charting

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In a simple overview, charting is the ideal way to begin to see your signs and symptoms of relapse before you have fully entered into the main stages of the disease.

In order to chart, take a sheet of paper, and draw a large box. Divide it into one large column on the left, and 7 smaller columns on the right. Make as many rows as you would like to place signs to chart on. Some common signs that people chart on include: change in appetite, change in sleeping, irritability, etc. You can add any signs that you believe are indicators that change as you are beginning to slide into your full disease process.

Each day, starting in the first box, enter, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being no problems, 10 being the worst problems ever) how much problem you are having with that sign.

When you begin to see a pattern that your individual signs are beginning to rise from the low end of the spectrum higher up, it generally is indicative that you are beginning to slide into the disease process and it is time to talk to your doctor, therapist, or take whatever or action is necessary to deal with the disease.

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.

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