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21 November 2012
Myth busted! A full Moon doesn't aggravate psychological problems

The Moon's phases don't affect the number of patients who show up at ER with psychological problems, say the authors of a new study in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry. "Contrary to popular belief, there is no connection between lunar phases and the incidence of psychological problems," said study leader Geneviève Belleville of Université Laval.

For the study, Belleville evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis between 2005 and 2008. The research team focused on 771 individuals who showed up at ER with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined. Psychological evaluations revealed that a sizeable number of these patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

Using lunar calendars, the researchers then determined the moon phase in which each of these visits occurred. The results of their 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 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 what many believe, including 80 percent of nurses and 64 percent of doctors who are convinced that the lunar cycle affects patients' mental health.

"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."

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Source: Université Laval

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