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Scientists have found a link between intelligence and depression


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Have you ever heard Oscar Levant’s famous quote; “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity”? Well, it would seem as though there may be some truth in that.

A new survey on a self-selected group from the oldest high IQ society in the world MENSA  has found a correlation between high IQ and clinical anxiety and depression disorders.

It is thought that the same intelligence and heightened awareness that can lead to great creations can also work against them.

To anyone who has suffered with anxiety or depression, this may not be a surprise. In bouts of depression and anxiety, my partner has often said to me “You’re too clever and in your own head too much, you wouldn’t have such a problem if you watched some trashy TV and switched off”.

That’s the problem though, I can’t switch off. Even if I watch rubbish television, I can’t switch off. I get bored with it and think of a million other things instead. An intellectual brain is a hyperactive brain, so while someone with a high IQ may achieve academically and be a high earner, they may also be more pre-disposed to psychological conditions.

A sample of 3, 175 people have participated to the study, so the outcome of this survey may be quite reliable. However, not necessarily so. IQ doesn’t necessarily measure intelligence as you can study for IQ tests, so it’s measuring things you’ve learnt rather than your brain’s capacity to learn things.

Also, people who join MENSA could possibly feel insecure about their intellect or place in society, which could be part of anxiety or depression. Finally, this sample was self-selected. It is possible that in this study they just found people who don’t mind discussing mental illness and it isn’t a true reflection.

The study was carried out in the US, where people with higher incomes are more likely to access medical care due to their health care system. As such, they are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems than people with lower incomes.

Likewise, high IQ also correlates with wealth. Is this because people with high IQs are more likely to have higher paying jobs due to their intelligence and/or have access to better education?

Whilst this study is interesting, it does open a lot of questions too.

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