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Study Debunks Lunar Myth About Mental Illness

Study Debunks Lunar Myth About Mental Illness
11/20/2012 2:15 AM ET

The influence of moon on human behavior is intriguing because it is a widely held belief that violent crimes, psychotic behavior, suicides, accidents, depression, drug overdoses, animal bites and why, even stock market fluctuations occur around the time of full moon.

Guess what? Nearly 80% of casualty nurses and 64% of doctors believe that the lunar cycle affects their patients' mental health. It is this belief that makes hospitals and police departments to deploy extra staff during full moons.

But a new study conducted by a team of researchers led by Professor Geneviève Belleville of Université Laval's School of Psychology has debunked the connection of full moon and psychological problems.

In order to determine if the myth linking the moon to mental disorders was true, the researchers evaluated 771 individuals who visited emergency rooms with chest pains at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis between March 2005 and April 2008.

An examination into the patients' mental health revealed that a majority of them suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts. The moon phase in which each of the hospital visits occurred was determined using lunar calendars.

As the moon orbits the earth, based on the changing relative positions of the earth, moon, and sun, the moon goes through four major phases - New, 1st Quarter, Full and Last or 3rd Quarter.

According to the researchers, the results of their analyses revealed no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases, contrary to the widespread belief.

Commenting on the findings Belleville said, "We hope our results will encourage health professionals to put the idea that the lunar cycle affects patients' mental health 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."

by RTT Staff Writer

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