Personalized To You

The Mood Triggers app quickly becomes personalized to you.  Because you will be filling out surveys every hour, the app will become familiar with what is the main trigger of your anxiety or depression, and will have charts available to you, so that you can see what you, specifically, need to focus on in order to work on getting better.

This factor of the Mood Triggers app is also very beneficial for therapy.  The app will give you some aspects that you need to work on, such as “avoidance” or “helplessness”.  Once you have this information easily identified for you, which can be hard to do on your own, you will have something to focus and work on with your therapist.  

Identifying what is triggering your anxiety or depression can be difficult, but it is the most important step in getting better.  Because Mood Triggers is personalized to you and helping you improve, it provides information on what is the most triggering, as well as what is the least.  The app helps you learn more about yourself and your anxiety/depression, so that you can become the healthiest you!

Making the Most of Therapy

Sometimes in therapy, it is difficult to talk.  Maybe you had a long list of things you wanted to discuss and you’re drawing a blank, or maybe the week you’ve had hasn’t been quite as stressful to you.  Either way, you might end up spending 30 minutes of the hour just sitting in silence, not sure of what to say.  However, with the mood triggers app, you could have something right in front of you that you could discuss.  Furthermore, this log will just be on your phone, so you will likely already have it with you and will not have to remember a journal.  You will easily be able to look at how your moods have been fluctuating since your last session, which will allow you to make the most of your therapy session.  Your therapist will also get a good look at your sleep and step intake, as well as see highs and lows of your anxiety/depression throughout the week.  This will not only allow each session to help the best it can, but it will also allow your therapist to know enough about your patterns to be able to help you significantly in just a few weeks!

Fatigue Can Trigger Anxiety

Many people who experience anxiety or depression are experiencing it because of fatigue.  However, this can be a difficult trigger to identify, especially if you aren’t constantly aware of how much sleep you get at night.  However, the mood triggers app can help you to know if fatigue (along with many other possible triggers, such as avoidance or helplessness) is the reason for your anxiety.  The app will be tracking your sleep, as well as how you sleep, and will therefore be able to tell you if your fatigue is a trigger.  Furthermore, because the app tracks how well you sleep, you will have the information to learn if the main issue is how you sleep (for example, if your sleep is very restless), and if you should be changing that in any way.


This information is also useful for a therapist or psychiatrist to help you the best way they can.  How well and how much you sleep can directly impact your anxiety and depression, so a psychiatrist may recommend taking melatonin (which actually has some antidepressant properties!), or something that will allow you to sleep better and lessen your anxiety or depression.


Whatever is triggering your anxiety or depression needs to be recognized before you can do anything to fix it; otherwise, your attempts at getting better will not be attacking the true problem.  Mood triggers can be the first step to getting better, as it will help you to identify why you feel how you feel!

Checklist for Using Mood Triggers with Therapy Clients

Interested in using Mood Triggers with your clients, but want a checklist describing how to use Mood Triggers to clients?

Here’s a client sheet that you can give to clients about Mood Triggers.

  • I want to monitor your anxiety and depression in your daily life to better understand what’s driving your anxiety and depression uniquely.
  • To use Mood Triggers, you will need an Android device (iPhone version coming soon).
  • The first time you use Mood Triggers you will be asked to complete some demographic questions, questions about when you go to bed/wake up, and anxiety and depression. This should take about 5-10 minutes, and you’ll only need to complete it once.
  • I’ll ask you to use the app for one week
  • During the week, the app will prompt you once per hour during the times you indicate you will be awake.
    • I want you to try to complete as many of the prompts as possible as it will give us a better understanding of your anxiety and depression.
    • The hourly prompts should only take about 1-2 minutes to complete
    • The hourly prompts ask a lot about different things that trigger different people’s anxiety and depression (for example, avoidance, heart rate).
    • We want to see which triggers are the most important for you.
  • During the week the app will also automatically log your sleep and steps.
    • To log the sleep, make sure to plug your phone into a charger, and set the phone next to you in bed. As soon as the screen is off, the device is charging, and it’s between the times you indicated you’ll be asleep, sleep tracking will automatically start.
  • In our next session, make sure to bring your Android device back into the session. I’ll want to look over your anxiety, depression, and health behavior, and look over your results to see what’s driving your anxiety and depression.

Link to Mood Triggers on the Google Play Store



Using Mood Triggers with Therapy Clients

If you’re a therapist, you may be interested in using Mood Triggers with clients. Mood Triggers is a completely FREE Android application developed by Nick Jacobson at Penn State.

Why use Mood Triggers in Therapy?

Assessment is an important aspect of any  therapy, in order to provide and synthesize a case with a client. Mood Triggers can aid in case conceptualization, while requiring minimal work on the therapist’s part.

Many cognitive-behavioral therapies (particularly for anxiety and mood disorders) ask clients to engage in symptom monitoring using daily homeworks. These diaries can offer useful insights into how a client experiences anxiety and depression in their daily life, but these assessments do not offer a rich case conceptualization without discussing the diaries in depth with the client.

Record Monitoring

  1. Electronic diaries of anxiety and depression. Mood Triggers offers all of the normal features of paper monitoring tools, but provides many new monitoring features that have great clinical utility and are easy to implement in practice. Client’s will be prompted once per hour on their phones. Therapists can then view peaks and trends’ to clients anxiety and depression.
  2. Automatic Sleep Monitoring. Persons with anxiety and depression often report difficutly with sleep hygiene (sometimes sleeping too little and sometimes oversleeping). Indeed, empirical research has shown that anxiety and depression are both linked to poorer sleep quality, and this contributes to greater symptoms severity. Mood Triggers will automatically monitor client’s sleep duration (and soon sleep quality). As a therapist, early in therapy you get a full record of a client’s sleep behaviors, allowing you to build sleep hygeine into the early stages of therapy.
  3. Automatic Step Monitoring. A hallmark symptom of depression is low behavioral activation, which can contribute to low physical activity. Mood Triggers automatically logs and keeps a record of clients steps to give clinicians a snapshot of their client’s activity levels throughout the day. Walking has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression in experimental studies, and Mood Triggers allows a therapist to know when to intervene.

Personalized and empirically based case conceptualizations

  1. Mood Triggers monitors a number of constructs that have been empirically related to anxiety and depression (like avoidance, helplessness, hopelessness, attentional biases any many others). By clicking a single button in the app, Mood Triggers will list the aspects that are most impactful in determining a clients anxiety and depression symptoms. These are presented in an easy to read list, and this can be used to inform treatment plans.
    • Example 1: When a therapists clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s anxiety is negative life events. This tells the therapist that the client’s anxiety is primarily driven by being overly reactive to stressors in their daily life. The therapist can then target stress reactivity first within treatment.
    • Example 2: When a therapists clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s anxiety is avoidance. The therapist can target avoidance behaviors immediately within the therapy, and work on a construction of a fear hierarchy to work on fear exposures.
    • Example 3: When a therapist clicks the result button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s anxiety is heart rate. The therapist can see that the client is strongly reacting to their physiological arousal. The therapist immediately begin introceptive exposure to break the link between anxiety and physiological arousal.
    • Example 4: When a therapist clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s depression is fatigue. The therapist can work on intervention strategies to increase energy levels throughout the day with the client.
    • Example 5: When a therapists clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s depression is hopelessness. The therapist can work on a cognitive intervention targetting the client’s maladaptive thoughts about the future.

Sounds great, but isn’t this a lot of work?

No! We designed Mood Triggers to be easy to use, for both clients and therapists. Mood Triggers is designed to be a self-contained self-help tool.

Since Mood Triggers contains all the instructions needed to use the app within the app itself, all that would be required is to tell client’s the name of the Mood Triggers app, have them install it, and bring their phone in with them during the next therapy session.

A therapist can view a record of the client’s anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and health behaviors from one click on the home screen.

Accessing the personalized and empirically based triggers of that client’s anxiety and depression just requires that a therapist and look at the top of the list of triggers. If a trigger is green it means that as a client’s trigger goes up, their symptoms rises, if a trigger is red it means that as a client’s trigger goes up, their symptoms decreases.


Mood Triggers is a no-cost, useful assessment tool that can offer a therapist valuable insights into their client’s anxiety and depression symptoms, and requires only minutes of the therapists time.

Link to Mood Triggers on the Google Play Store