The popular myth that links lunar phases with psychological instability — a belief surprisingly shared by doctors and nurses, has been punctured by scientists. Researchers led by Genevieve Belleville, professor at the Universite Laval’s School of Psychology, Canada, examined the link between lunar phases and the numbers showing up at emergency rooms. But they found nothing to substantiate the belief.

Researchers evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Montreal’s Sacre-Coeur Hospital and Hotel-Dieu de Levis between March 2005 and April 2008, the journal General Hospital Psychiatry reports. They focused specifically on 771 individuals who showed up with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined, according to a Laval statement.

Psychological evaluations revealed that a sizeable number of these patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts. Using lunar calendars, researchers determined the moon phase in which each of these visits occurred. Their analyses revealed no link between psychological problems and the four lunar phases.

However, there was one exception; the 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,’ he said. 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.

Source: IANS