Late last year, scientists created a buzz when they announced there is a link between higher intelligence and mental illness.
This doesn’t surprise me at all.
I’m not saying I have the IQ of Einstein.
But school was always very easy, almost too easy.
And in my case, I think a lot. Too much.
I analyze, I’m a quick thinker, and usually, it drives me nuts.
A quick, introspective brain has been great for college research and writing, but it has also added to my anxiety and depression.
It has caused me to be impatient with others from the time I was in elementary school.
Interestingly enough, many of my friends with bipolar disorder say the same thing.
And there is science behind this.
According to European researchers, 500 million years ago, genes of a sea-living invertebrate animal evolved and eventually enabled humans to think and reason.
These genes allow us to learn complex skills, analyze situations, and have flexibility in the way we think.
They have improved our mental capacity, which is also responsible for a number of brain disorders—hence the link.
Professor Seth Grant of the University of Edinburgh said, “The price of higher intelligence and more complex behaviors is more mental illness”.
And for me, the more I think, and the deeper I think, the more I drive myself crazy.
In other related news, a 2013 study among over 16,000 participants in 21 European countries revealed people who are over-educated have an increased risk for depression.
What does over-education mean in this study?
It is defined, for these purposes, as having more education than is required for your career.
This study was presented this past weekend at the American Sociological Association meeting.
Professors from the University of Ghent in Belgium say over-educated people who are not challenged by their jobs, and who do not use all of the skills they gained in their education, are at an increased risk of mental distress.
Jobs with less status, prestige, stimulation, and unbalanced support networks all contribute to this.
Previous studies in Europe have shown an increased risk of depression in people with lower education levels.
This study, though, shows another angle not previously considered.
The professors want to make it clear, however, that they do not believe expansion of education is a bad thing.
Some of the outcomes of this study may have to do with labor markets that are slow to catch up to the increased number of people who have received college degrees.
If university education continues to rise, and the labor market can’t keep up, it might have an effect on the Western world’s mental health.
So, what do you think about these studies? Do you think there is indeed a link between higher intelligence and mental disorders? Have you ever seen any practical evidence of this in your life? How about the second study? Do you think the “over-educated” are at an increased risk of mental health issues?
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Last reviewed: 12 Aug 2013