MoodSwings combines psychoeducational modules and message boards to help individuals cope with bipolar disorder.
MoodSwings is an online intervention for bipolar disorders adapted from face-to-face group interventions. Five modules delivered every 2 weeks address bipolar disorder, stress and triggers, medication, depression, and mania and hypomania. MoodSwings also includes 3 booster modules delivered 3, 6, and 12 months post-intervention to review intervention content, lifestyle issues, and communication. Booster modules were intended to coincide with research follow-up assessments to promote study retention. Modules must be completed sequentially (i.e., modules cannot be completed ahead of time), but users may go back and review past modules. MoodSwings users have access to a discussion board with other users. A moderator approves posts for the discussion board, but does not contribute to discussions. A more intensive version of MoodSwings (MoodSwings Plus) includes interactive features based on CBT and motivational interviewing (e.g., mood tracking; cognitive strategies promoting awareness of thought patterns; goal setting; self-reflection; problem solving; relapse prevention plans).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Young Adults (18-30)
A randomized head to head trial of MoodSwings.net.au: An internet-based self-help program for bipolar disorder
Lauder S, Chester A, Castle D, et al. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2015. 171: 13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.08.008
Summary: Researchers recruited 156 people with a bipolar disorder through clinician referral or advertisements. Participants were randomized to receive MoodSwings or MoodSwings Plus. Randomization occurred in groups of 12, such that discussion boards for both conditions had 6 members each. Participants completed assessments of mania, depression, social support, locus of control, medication adherence, impact of depression and mania on psychosocial functioning, and quality of life at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months after baseline. Relapse was assessed after each module and at 3, 6, and 12 months post-baseline. There were no significant differences between groups in rates of relapse. Researchers found significantly lower mania symptoms at 12 months for the MoodSwings Plus group compared to MoodSwings alone. Both groups experienced significant improvements from baseline in depression (6 months), medication adherence (12 months), and impact of mania on functioning (12 months). The MoodSwings Plus group experienced significant improvements from baseline in social support (6 months), mania (12 months), quality of life (3 and 6 months), impact of depression on functioning (6 and 12 months), and impact of mania on functioning (3 months). The MoodSwings only group experienced significant improvements from baseline in medication adherence (3 months) and quality of life (12 months). Nearly half (48%) of participants completed all 5 psychoeducational modules and 86.2% completed at least 2 modules.
Take Away: MoodSwings and MoodSwings Plus produced significant reductions in psychosocial outcomes from baseline and participants who completed MoodSwings Plus experienced lower mania at 12 months than participants who received MoodSwings.
A randomized controlled trial of MoodSwings 2.0: An internet-based self-management program for bipolar disorder
Gliddon E, Cosgrove V, Berk L, et al. Bipolar Disorders. 2019. 21(1): 28-39. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12669
Summary: Researchers recruited 304 individuals with a bipolar disorder using online advertisements and randomized participants to receive MoodSwings, MoodSwings Plus, or access to a MoodSwings discussion board only. Participants received access to their assigned intervention for 400 days. Participants completed assessments of depression and mania severity, mental and physical health functioning, quality of life, depression symptoms, and medication adherence at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months post-baseline. All participants received access to group-specific discussion boards consisting of approximately 100 members each. Participants who received MoodSwings reported significantly lower depression severity than those who received the discussion board only at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months follow-up. MoodSwings participants reported significantly lower depression symptoms than participants who received the discussion board only at 12 months. MoodSwings and MoodSwings Plus participants reported significantly lower depression symptoms than discussion board only participants at 6 months. Notably, participants who received MoodSwings Plus reported significantly worse physical health functioning at 3 months than participants who received the discussion board only. On average, participants used their assigned intervention for 197 days, with no significant differences in treatment retention between groups. The module about stress and triggers was rated as the most useful and liked of all the modules.
Take Away: MoodSwings and MoodSwings Plus promoted lower depression symptoms at follow-up timepoints relative to MoodSwings message boards, but MoodSwings Plus produced worse physical health functioning at 6 months than MoodSwings message boards only.