Being intelligent is hard

The Real Link Between Intelligence and Depression

A while back I was friends with this guy who didn’t really have the easiest life.
At least, he would tell you this much if you were to ever ask him about it.

In truth, his life seemed “great” to the outside observer.
He had a great job, finished his degree after starting it during high school, came from a well-off family and was in a great relationship.

So what was the problem? Well, he was suffering from depression.
Well, according to himself he was – he never bothered getting properly diagnosed by a professional.

The biggest problem he faced as a depression sufferer was his loneliness.
He couldn’t really connect with other people due to the difference between the way they viewed the world.

He kept saying that he wished he was less intelligent, and that he is “jealous of the masses”

Funny thing is, when he did meet with a professional, it was determined that he didn’t, in fact, suffer from depression.

Crazy how this sort of thing happens, huh?

Aside from the fact that he was extremely arrogant, and a bit of a jerk honestly, he did raise a fair point.

People with higher intelligence tend to be more mentally unstable than the rest of their peers, and that’s a fact.

But is it really a “fair point”, or is it just a misconception that people have?
As it turns out, the answer is more complicated than you might think

What is intelligence

To determine the connection between intelligence and depression we need to actually understand what intelligence and depression are.

Luckily for us, since depression is a properly defined mental disorder we can just check out the symptoms and be done with it.

intelligence, on the other day, is way more problematic.

You see, intelligence is defined as one’s ability to store information and apply it in practice.
But that’s pretty much where it gets confusing.

You see, we humans have no proper tools to assess one’s intelligence.
In fact, any and all tools that we have can be argued to be extremely biased.

IQ tests are generally seen as meaningless and pretty much any other type of testing is only meant to test a specific type of intelligence.

Besides, if I were to answer a bunch of IQ tests, I would naturally get better at solving them, right?
In other words, it would stand to reason that anyone can increase their IQ through practice.

Because of that, testing the correlation between high IQ and depression will only do so much.

As such, the only way to determine the connection between intelligence and depression is to compare subject with varying levels of intelligence in particular subjects and see if they happen to suffer from depression or not.

An unbelievably inefficient, and even laughable, method, but it’s all we really got.

The truth is that, by definition, properly assessing the connection between intelligence and depression with minimal bias is something we can’t really do all that well at the moment.

And that’s only the first problem we got.

Ignorance isn’t really bliss.

We all heard this at least once.

How ignorance is bliss, how being less knowledgeable or “aware” makes you more likely to be happy.
It seems reasonable enough, so much so that many of us believe it.

But testing shows us that it’s far from being true.

One study attempted to find the relation between IQ and depression.
They collected data from 6,870 participants and sorted it based on their “estimated” IQ scores (we will get to that later).

Then they had them fill a questionnaire regarding their own levels of happiness.

According to their findings, people with high levels of intelligence (120-129 on the IQ scale) were the happiest, while people who scored around 70-99 were the least happy.

In more than one way, this makes perfect sense.
People with lower levels of intelligence greatly struggle academically and their attempts at getting a high-paying job are more likely to fail.

Contrary to popular belief, very few people can be both “ignorant” and “happy” at the same time.

People who possess low levels of intelligence struggle much more with relatively mundane things.
More so when compared to their “bright” peers.

The fact is, being unintelligent is pretty darn hard.

Low quality jobs are depressing

But what about people with high IQ?

Yeah, well, from this point on, data seems to be much less conclusive.

You see, it is largely agreed that people who suffer from genuine intellectual deficiencies have unhappy lives, and are prone to depression as a result.

The same can’t necessarily be said about people with exceptionally high intelligence.
I am not talking about “bright” people like the previous study has shown, seeing as they are the happiest demographic – I’m talking about full-blown geniuses.

You see, it is generally believed by the scientific community that geniuses are highly depressed individuals.

They have even conducted their own studies.
One study that was performed on highly gifted children (IQ of 130 and above) has shown that up to 65% of them suffer from depression in some shape or form.

An outlandish number by any stretch of the imagination.
That being said, there is a counter study that associates depression as a side effect of a completely different disorder.

This study, for example, was able to associate schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to having high creative intelligence.

There is also a variety of data to suggest that creative intelligence is another contributing factor to depression.

Or maybe depression is but a side effect of those other disorders? There are many studies that indicate that people with high intelligence are more prone to experience anxiety, and it is well known that anxiety can be a cause of depression.

Depression actually lowers your intelligence

So we talked about how extreme levels of intelligence, high or low, can be a cause of depression.

But there is another group of people who argue that any and all studies about the relation between IQ and depression are unreliable.

Their reasoning? They claim that Depression actually lowers your IQ score, making the relationship between the two even more obscure.

But how does it work?

The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls higher cognitive skills in humans.
Problem solving, memorization and language are a few examples.

The thing is, data indicates that depression patients are impaired in most domains of the frontal lobe.
That means that the link between intelligence and depression goes both ways.

People with depression are, quite literally, too depressed to do well on IQ tests.
Their minds are a complete mess, and they score way lower than their full potential because of that.

In other words, it becomes very difficult to properly study the connection between depression and intelligence, with our measuring tools being as limited as they are.

There is a link between intelligence and depression but…

Studies show us that high and low levels of intelligence are bad for our mental health.
That being said, there isn’t a very clear cut answer coming from the scientific community.

For starters, data contradicts itself all over the place.
Furthermore, many experts claim confirmation bias.

Meaning that many people conduct their studies in an unscientific manner, all for the purpose of making the point that they want to make.

Others argue that, because we can’t properly measure intelligence, we can’t really determine such things.
After all, conducting proper testing of one’s intelligence involves an expensive procedure and one-on-one examination.

A procedure that takes considerable resources, and not something that people would like to throw their money at.

Besides, how are we supposed to measure a concept as abstract as “creativity”, anyway?
That’s why people typically use estimations during their testing, something that most researchers disagree with.

Either way, connecting your state of mind and mental health are certainly connected to your level of intelligence.
The question is, what are you going to do about that?


Reading helps with depression

You need to take action

Alright, so assuming you read this far you should know that intelligence is very much connected to your mental health.
So what are you going to do with this information?

Assuming that you suffer from depression, you might want to try to actually sort it out, right?
Being well-informed is great and all, but it’s important to take action.

This is an actual issue that highly-intelligent people suffer from.
They live in their own heads, calculating and measuring but not actually doing anything.

Here’s the thing, whether you are highly intelligent or not, you still have all the tools in the world to overcome your depression.

After all, your intelligence isn’t a factor when it comes to actually treating your depression, and that’s the important thing.

This leads us to the question of “how?”
How can you overcome depression?

One guide in particular that I recommend is the “Destroy Depression System”.
Feel free to check out my review right here!

If you got any question you would like answered then please email me and I’ll get back to you.

Email: [email protected]

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6 thoughts on “The Real Link Between Intelligence and Depression”

  1. This is a very interesting topic. I never thought to compare the two but this could be true for many people. I don’t think that unintelligent people are unhappy. There are many people who are happy with what they have. That is just my opinion but then again you are probably right. This is a great article by the way.

    1. Hello there,

      Honsetly, I think that you are very right in saying that there are many people with varying levels of intelligence who are perfectly happy with what they have, but the data does show that the struggles that certain people experience due to their low intelligence are very real, and shouldn’t be underestimated


  2. Really interesting article! Under normal circumstances, I would have never related intelligence with any kind of depression to begin with. Heck, I didn’t even imagine that they could be even remotely connected or compared in any manner. But this is a really nice and well written article and thanks to Vlad, i’ve just learned something new today.

  3. Has anything been proved 100% about any of these subjects?

    I have an IQ of 132 and suffer from anxiety/depression.
    All the therapists I have seen seem to think that because they have diagnosed me with a certain disorder I will be cured.
    I know the thoughts I have are total rubbish, but it does not stop me having the thoughts.

    There are a lot of people with theories about how these conditions can be cured making a lot of money , but nobody really knows how to cure them.

    The only thing I know is: If I am having a bad day/week – I will come out of it.

    1. Strictly speaking, there is no absolute proof regarding mental health – merely “inclinations”, i.e “it is likely that if X then Y” or “People who do ‘this’ tend to experience improvement in their condition”

      If it were possible to physically alter the brain in some specific way to get the kind of results that we want out of it then society would look way dfferent.

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