General News Research Technology — 25 September 2015

People with mood disorders like depression or anxiety are encouraged to record their emotions in a notebook or app. But logging your feelings throughout the day is tedious. Many mood trackers don’t return a lot of insight, so it is also hard to stay motivated to keep filling them out.

especially when many mood trackers don’t return a lot of insight.

Hack My Mood, presented at Disrupt Hackathon today by Allison Nelson, wants to give people information they can use to improve their mental well-being by applying sentiment analysis to their social media posts and cross-referencing it with weather information.

For Hack My Mood, Nelson used the IBM-Watson Alchemy API to analyze her Twitter account and create a chart showing the fluctuations between positive and negative tweets over time.

After comparing it with data from Weather Underground, she found that her tweets often became more negative when the temperature was cold. This can help people with seasonal affective disorder anticipate which specific climate conditions will impact their mood, which is important because patterns are sometimes counterintuitive (as in the case of reverse SAD, when people feel worse in summer).

IBM-Watson Alchemy’s natural language processing gave Nelson some surprising insights. For example, she remembers being happy about starting a new job, but her tweets from that time showed that she was quite stressed, too. The API also takes into account periods  when there are no tweets, since abandoning social media may be a sign of low mood.

I love Hack My Mood because while I’ve struggled to keep a diary or check into mood tracking apps, I’ve managed to post regularly on Facebook for almost ten years. It would be extremely helpful to see an analysis of my posting activity and how the results correlate with periods when I was happy or depressed.

Nelson said she wanted to create Hack My Mood because being depressed can be unpredictable and very frightening. Hack My Mood gives people more control over their moods and in turn can help them live healthier and happier lives.

This article first appeared on ‘Tech Crunch’ on 20 September 2015.


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