Originally published May 6, 2013 at 11:30 a.m., updated May 6, 2013 at 8:12 p.m.
Kimberly Knox, inventor of the mood tracker app, talked to KPBS Midday Edition on Monday about how the technology can change the way patients cope with mood disorders.
Mood Watch App - Track Your Mood Disorder
Kimberly Knox, Inventor, Bipolar patient
Midday Edition airs weekdays at noon on KPBS Radio
Living with a mood disorder can make life challenging and at times debilitating. Disorders can include depression, anxiety or bipolar disease. Kimberly Knox knows that all too well. The San Diegan is a bipolar patient and says at times it became so severe that it kept her from functioning.
"It led to incredible anxiety," she says. "I couldn't drive, at times I couldn't walk." Knox, who is a multidisciplinary inventor, says her disorder affected every part of her life including work.
"I'm in a very creative field and at first I would be very productive, insightful, visionary,” she says. “Then, suddenly things would get out of control." She tells KPBS her illness would sometimes leave her in a chaotic state, "prone to incredible tremors and vomiting”.
Knox has been hospitalized twice where treatment focused on medication and psychotherapy. During her most recent stay Knox had a breakthrough of sorts, what she calls an "epiphany". She came up with a way to pinpoint triggers to her bipolar episodes. What started out documenting her emotional, physical and mental state throughout the day has led to the creation of the Mood Watch app. Knox says it has the “potential to help others with mood disorders.”
Mental Health Lecture
Mediation, Medication and Magic
Health Lecturer: Kimberly Knox, multidisciplinary inventor and bipolar patient.
Thursday May 9, 2013
Social: 5:30-6:00 pm
Lecture: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Sanford Children's Research Center, Building 12
10905 Road to the Cure
San Diego, CA 92121
Event and parking is free, RSVP to
"At four in the morning, in the hospital,” she says, “I was having a hard time and asked the security guard to let me in the art department.” "In my spiral notebook I started drawing and dissecting how I was feeling. It was an epiphany," she tells KPBS. "I felt that if I could create a quick, precise way to size up myself up physically, emotionally and mentally…I could turn everything around." But writing everything down and charting her feelings became time consuming and tedious.
When Knox showed her drawings to the doctors and staff at the hospital they told her she needed to create an app so others with mood disorders could benefit from tracking their day. At the time, Knox didn't even know what an app was, "I thought maybe it was short for Apple," she chuckles.
"The support from physicians and those around me in and out of the hospital was phenomenal," she says. "Doctors were blown away and telling me I have to do something with this...that's how it came about." At first it was a tool to help Knox understand her own mood disorder patterns, but now she’s focused on helping others as well, “it’s my mission,” she says.
The Mood Watch app allows users to track how they feel mentally, emotionally and physically by answering a short set of questions, tracking their sleep quality, blood pressure and meditation. Users are encouraged to rate three times a day, morning, noon and night. They are asked about their anxiety level, their mood, calmness, focus and energy level. Mood Watch also offers documentation of supplements or medications they are taking throughout the day and provides alarms as reminders.
A report is generated which can be shared with a physician or therapist
According to Knox, closely tracking one's feelings throughout the day, every day is a great way to better understand one's mood patterns. The Mood Watch app has also been endorsed by the International Bipolar Foundation.
It's been a few short months since Knox was hospitalized and came up with the idea that led to the Mood Watch app. Today she say’s she is doing "excellent".
She credits the Mood Watch app for helping her feel in control and empowered. "You give yourself a certain sense of power over this condition that you didn't have before," says Knox.
"Getting my life back was something that was critical for me. I wanted to have a good life to enjoy life and have some concept of what it would be to have inner peace."