Full Moon Madness

Psychological problems have been linked to the full moon by myth not by science

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Healthcare professionals have held onto superstitions about the full moon increasing the risk of psychological problems in emergency rooms. Psychologists in Canada found the truth!

A recent study looked at unexplained chest pains in emergency room visits in relation to the lunar cycle. The study’s findings revealed no link between moon phases and psychological problems.

This means that different moon cycles don’t make you crazy.

These researchers found no medical causes could be identified as the root cause of the patient’s chest pain. Each of the patients underwent a psychological evaluation. They found anxiety disorders, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts to be present in many of the patients.

"For emotional issues — call a therapist."

Geneviève Belleville, PhD, professor of psychology at the Université Laval in Québec, Canada, set out to examine the myth about lunar phases and psychological problems. For the study, 771 chest pain patients in the emergency room (ER) were evaluated between 2005-2008 at a hospital in Montreal, Canada.

Dr. Belleville’s team compared the dates of each of the patient visits to the ER with a lunar calendar. There are four phases to the moon: new, full, 1st quarter and 3rd quarter.

Dr. Belleville said, “[W]e observed no full moon or new moon effect on psychological problems.”

Researchers did find seasonal links and anxiety disorders and/or panic episodes. Panic episodes were 1.4 times more frequent in the spring. Anxiety disorders were 1.6 times more common during the summer. Interviews discovered 80 percent of nurses and 64 percent of doctors believed that the moon phase did influence the mental health of patients.

Authors concluded, “These findings encourage emergency department professionals and physicians to abandon their beliefs about the influence of lunar cycles on the mental health of their patients.”

Dr. Belleville said, “We hope our results will encourage health professionals to put that idea to rest.”

“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.”

This study was published in November in General Hospital Psychiatry. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
November 20, 2012
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013