September 30, 2014
The Moon-Mood Connection

The Moon-Mood Connection

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

The idea that a full moon is connected with lunacy (violence, aggression, sleepwalking and general craziness) is probably as old as language, but is born anew with every generation. In fact, “lunacy” comes from the latin word luna, meaning moon. A full moon is also supposed to send pregnant women into labor and make nursing home residents more agitated. According to ancient philosophers, the moon affects human behavior and health by its gravitational pull on body fluids.

Scientists have investigated these and other lunar notions—and repeatedly debunked them. They have been unable to substantiate any links between phases of the moon and bizarre, murderous or suicidal behavior, various medical conditions or birth rates. And as astronomers and physicists will tell you, the gravitational pull of the moon on humans is virtually nil. (The moon influences tides in large bodies of water, but not water in our bodies.)

It seems, however, as if some of these researchers may have done their studies under the influence of a full moon. For instance, a paper published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine back in 1987 claimed to find that 80 percent of randomly selected nurses and 64 percent of doctors in emergency rooms in unnamed hospitals believed that lunar cycles affect mental health. The paper also noted that 92 percent of these nurses said they should be paid extra—“lunar pay differentials”—during a full moon. It’s probably safe to assume that the author’s tongue was firmly in his cheek when he wrote this.

Even so, those statistics were prominently cited in a new study in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry. It looked for correlations between phases of the moon and psychological problems (such as panic attacks, anxiety or mood disorders and suicidal thoughts) by examining records from the emergency rooms of two major Canadian hospitals. Once again, the researchers found no lunar connections. They warned health care professionals to abandon unfounded beliefs about the moon’s effect on their patients, which could become “self-fulfilling prophecies.”

Talk about lunacy!