Can a Full Moon Affect Your Mood?

Does the Moon Make People Crazy?

By Tim Clark
October 29, 2019
Full Moon
Pixabay

Can the Moon affect your mood? Does it make people crazy? Science doesn’t have proof, but could centuries of folklore be wrong? Unless you plan to ask a werewolf (which we don’t recommend), it might be time to explore the myths and reality.

The Lunar Connection

Ancient authorities like Aristotle, Paracelsus, and Pliny the Elder thought some humans were driven crazy by the full Moon. The Latin name for the Moon—“Luna”—is the root of modern words like “lunacy,” “lunatic,” and even “loon,” as in “crazy as a loon.” 

Even today, many doctors, nurses, EMTs, police officers, and elementary school teachers agree that full Moons will bring bizarre behavior—43 percent of healthcare professionals believe in what some call “the lunar influence,” as do 81 percent of mental healthcare specialists. But is there really a lunar connection to abnormal behavior?

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Science says no. Hundreds of studies have failed to turn up evidence of the lunar influence. And those few studies that suggest a connection are usually disproved or contradicted by others:

  • one study says more animal bites (from cats, rats, dogs, horses) occur at the full Moon
  • another says there’s no increase in dog bites
  • one shows an increase in crime around the full Moon
  • others find no increase in arrests, calls for police assistance, prison assaults, batteries, or homicides
  • admissions for psychosis are lowest during the full Moon, and psychiatric emergency room visits decline
  • calls to suicide prevention hotlines peak at the new Moon, not the full Moon

One explanation might be what psychologists call “confirmation bias”—people are more likely to notice things that confirm a preexisting belief. If you’re working in an emergency room, and something weird happens on the full Moon, your older and wiser colleagues nod and say, “Must be a full Moon.” That’s what they heard from their elders when they were new at the job. (Psychologists have a name for that, too: “communal reinforcement.”)

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But if something weird happens at a different phase of the lunar cycle, nobody says, “Must be the third quarter Moon!” And when nothing unusual happens on the full Moon, nobody says anything.

We call widespread beliefs that are unsupported by fact folklore. Erika Brady, who teaches folklore at Western Kentucky University, says, “it’s a way of imposing order on something that feels frighteningly out of control.”

How does a belief that strange things happen on the full Moon help us feel safer? The full Moon occurs only once every 29.5 days; that means the other four weeks of the lunar month should be less dangerous and unpredictable. See when the next full Moon is.

Therefore, this folk belief implies that our fears about everything from increased bleeding to werewolves may be limited to only 12 or 13 days per year.

Hey! Maybe that’s why the number 13 worries people!

Love Myth and Folklore?

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Reader Comments

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I believe in the full moon affect.

My son has been a paramedic for 15 years and he dreads working on the full moon. He said they are extremely busy.

Well all I know..

is that during a full moon I will have trouble sleeping. Sometimes I will have a rough night and get up just to look at the calendar just to see what phase the moon is in. My wife also claims that I am very restless while trying to sleep on those nights. Just my 2 cents worth..

Junior High School Full Moons

I just know that in the months before I retired from teaching middle school, I was counting off the full moons that remained.

Full Moons

My Irish Mom spoke more about the "moon on it's back", or the "fingernail moon", the last quarter, when she believed more ominous things happened.

The Lunar Connection

If, as they say, the moon affects the tides here on Earth & the human body is made up of 60% water, then I've always believed that it could make sense that the moon could affect us somehow, especially strongest when the moon is at its fullest

Full Moon

Everyone agrees that a full moon affects Mother Earth's tides. Since humans are mostly fluid, who's to say that we don't have tides, too. Feeling is water. Depending on the sign the full moon determines whether our tides are ruled by the modalities of cardinal, fixed, and mutable, and affected by elements of feeling (water), thinking (air), intuition (fire), or sensation (earth).

Full moon effects

I am a Cancer, born on the Cusp 6/22. We are dubbed moonchildren. A lot of time on the night before the fullmoon, and into fullmoon, the pain that i experience every day disappears and i am wide awake. Everyone in my family knows when its a full moon by the way i act. Wish i could harness whatever it is.

Full Moon Effects

Whether the moon is waxing or waning doesn't seem to have the same effect as a full moon, even though the moon is in the sky when the slightest part is visible. So its not gravitation. That leaves me to think the effect is derived from the reflected ions of the solar wind which stimulates people and other living creatures to all types of actions. Ask Walmart employees about their store, and what goes on during the time of a full moon.

Full Moon

My teeth are very sensitive on a full moon. My dentist confirmed that many patients have this same experience. My cat goes crazy on the full moon, tearing around the house and pawing the mini-blinds to see outside as if there's somebody out there. Also - - it isn't just the DAY of the full moon that causes these things - it begins 2 or 3 days before the full moon and continues on until about 2 days after.

Cat at the Window

Your cat has it pegged! The lunar effect is coming from outside where the moon shine is brightest(intensity), though it effects us indoors like an electro-static field. And we know electro-static fields can interact with the same fields in our brain. Also, the 2 days before and after I agree is intense as well because the reduction of moon shine is still reflecting a high percentage of the solar wind, during the moonlight phase called "Gibbous." Then the lunar phases descend to the "new moon" phase which means the moon is on the other side of the earth. Thanks for the cat observation!!

Full Moon effects

As a career Mariner, I finally retired with a new hobby (gardening). The Full moon effect creates the highest & lowest tides of the months. The human body is said to be 98% water. Of course the Full Moon effects humans.

Watermelons are 92% water.

Watermelons are 92% water. How does the moon affect them? The logic has to apply to all organisms.

Full Moon

I have worked in a nursing home for years & yes the Full Moon Does affect people.

Lunar vs. circadian rhythms

Tim,

I came across two publications in 2013:

Dina Fine Maron, "Phased Out: Human Sleep Patterns Linked to Full Moon," Scientific American, 2013-07-25

Christian Cajochen et al., "Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep," Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 15, pp. 1485–1488, 2013-08-05

Please let me know if there have been further studies on this topic.

Thank you!

Best Regards,

Kevin

Dementia/Alzheimers

I agree with you. I worked on a skilled nursing unit and noticed the same thing.

Moods/Moon/ Nursing Homes

Oops. Replied to wrong comment.