It was said in Shakespeare’s “Othello” that the full moon has been known to drive men to bizarre behavior. Well, it turns out to be a long-held belief that the full moon can stir up emotions, provoke unusual behavior, and even cause physical illness. While there may be little science to back up the link between the full moon and mental health effects, researchers have their own theories as to what the link is.
How the Full Moon Belief Came to Be
From as far back as 400 B.C., physicians and philosophers would blame the full moon on behavioral changes. After all, the word “lunatic” comes from the idea that changes in mental state were related to the lunar cycles. Famed jurist William Blackstone wrote that people lost their ability to reason during the moon’s shifting phases. The ocean’s tides rise and fall in time with the moon’s phases and several marine species have reproductive systems that are roughly timed to lunar cycles. Even if science has trouble understanding what the moon has to do with unusual behavior, you cannot deny the connection.
How the Full Moon Affects Mental Health and Mood
Exposure to daylight and darkness has led to the development of circadian rhythms that affect not just your sleep-wake cycle, but your physical and mental health, too. When circadian rhythms get shaky, they can cause or increase mental health disorders like anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia. The full moon brightens the sky from 0.1 to 0.3 lux like a single streetlight or a cell phone screen.