Forget the vampire movies and the link between lunar phases and the incidence of psychological problems. New research from France’s Université Laval debunks the popular notion that moon stages influence mental health.
Researchers directed by psychologist Dr. Geneviève Belleville examined the relationship between the moon’s phases and the number of patients who show up at hospital emergency rooms experiencing psychological problems.
The investigators evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Montreal’s Sacré-Coeur Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis between March 2005 and April 2008.
They focused specifically on 771 individuals who showed up at the emergency room with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined. Psychological evaluations revealed that a sizable number of these patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.
Using lunar calendars, the researchers determined the moon phase in which each of these visits occurred.
Analyses revealed no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases. There was one exception, however; anxiety disorders were 32 percent less frequent during the last lunar quarter.
“This may be coincidental or due to factors we did not take into account,” suggested Geneviève Belleville. “But one thing is certain: we observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems.”
This study’s conclusions run contrary to 80 percent of nurses and 64 percent of doctors who were convinced that the lunar cycle affects patients’ mental health.
Previous research has also found no association with the lunar phase and suicide, psychiatric admissions to a hospital, calls to a crisis center, domestic violence, or violent crimes. In other words, the idea that a full moon is associated with greater abnormal behavior is simply an urban legend.
“We hope our results will encourage health professionals to put that idea to rest,” said Belleville. “Otherwise, this misperception could, on the one hand, color their judgment during the full moon phase; or, on the other hand, make them less attentive to psychological problems that surface during the remainder of the month.”
Details on the study can be found on the website of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.
Source: Université Laval