Do More Intelligent People Tend to be More Depressed?
What Causes Depression?
There has been some debate as to whether intelligence is a contributor to depression. Do more intelligent people suffer more often from depression? Is it true that “less intelligent” people are happier?
We have heard that poor people (the “economically challenged”) seem to be happier because they have a greater appreciation for the little they do have. But, are those of lower intellect happier than the “intelligencia”?
Does Depression Differentiate?
Is there something in the genes of intelligent people that carries depression? Is depression genetic? Do we pass it down from generation to generation?
Some of the thinking is that people who have more insight into their own emotions and thoughts tend to become depressed more easily. Another suggestion is that depression is brought on when intelligent people are aware of a tragedy or injustice that affects them emotionally. When they are powerless to change it, they become depressed.
There is a saying: “The more you know, the more you hurt; the more you understand, the more you suffer.”
Mental Health Studies
Maybe it’s surprising to learn that there are more than 30 studies that have linked higher intelligence to mental health disorders, including major depression.
Bipolar disorder has affected many of the greatest achievers, including Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, Jackson Pollock and Buzz Aldrin, to name a few. We associate higher intelligence with mental illness and depression.
It seems that many of those blessed with higher IQ’s may also be carrying a curse along with it. Especially relevent, a mouse model with spatial memory and curiosity was the on that bore the neuronal calcium sensor-1 protein. Additionally, this is the same protein linked to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Other research showed that bipolar disorder may be four times as common among students who earned straight A’s. Researcher, James MacCabe at King’s College London said,
“We found that achieving an A grade is associated with increased risk for bipolar disorder, particularly in humanities and to a lesser extent in science subjects,” in a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. “These findings provide support for the hypothesis that exceptional intellectual ability is associated with bipolar disorder.”
Furthermore, a study from Jari Tiihonen at the University of Kuopio in Finland supports the connection, using arithmetic as the correlative for IQ.
When looking at the data in military conscripts, Finnish researchers discovered a high correlation between high-scorers and those who later received bipolar diagnoses — 12-fold.
So, it’s not just our imagination that the more intelligent one is, the higher the risk for suffering from depression.
In conclusion, depression is debilitating. Get help before the next wave hits.