Ecological momentary assessment of mood disorders and mood dysregulation

Psychol Assess. 2009 Dec;21(4):463-75. doi: 10.1037/a0017075.


In this review, we discuss ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies on mood disorders and mood dysregulation, illustrating 6 major benefits of the EMA approach to clinical assessment: (a) Real-time assessments increase accuracy and minimize retrospective bias; (b) repeated assessments can reveal dynamic processes; (c) multimodal assessments can integrate psychological, physiological, and behavioral data; (d) setting- or context-specific relationships of symptoms or behaviors can be identified; (e) interactive feedback can be provided in real time; and (f) assessments in real-life situations enhance generalizability. In the context of mood disorders and mood dysregulation, we demonstrate that EMA can address specific research questions better than laboratory or questionnaire studies. However, before clinicians and researchers can fully realize these benefits, sets of standardized e-diary questionnaires and time sampling protocols must be developed that are reliable, valid, and sensitive to change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / therapy
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Personality Assessment*
  • Social Environment*