is there a coorelation between having a high intellect and depression?

Most intelligent people i know (academically intelligent people) are depressed. Is there a coorelation between the two or is it just the intelligent people i know?

I have heard from a psychology teacher that there is a coorelation between high intellect & social skills (the higher your intellect, the worse your social skills) but i can’t find a study to back that up. Could depression be tied into the lack of social skills higher intellect people supposedly lack?

If you’re talking about clinical, medical depression, I don’t think so. It’s a genetic defect that causes chemical imbalances in your brain, and “intelligence” isn’t something that’s hardwired at birth (in other words, you can be born depressed, but not intelligent, so there’s probably no link between the two).

Perceived depression, where you’re constantly lonely, down, sad, etc., as a result of your surroundings and not your brain, would obviously run higher in people lacking in social skills. Are a good part of these people smarter than the average bear? My guess is not as many as you might think. They may THINK they’re brilliant, simply because it gives them something to feel good about (“Well, I may not be popular, rich or good-looking, but damn I’m smart”), but whether or not they appear deep and thoughtful by writing godawful angst-ridden poetry, the numbers of truly intelligent people are probably only slightly higher.

On a side note, I read a statistic once that stated 90% of Americans (and I’m going to assume a similar number everywhere) consider themselves to be above-average intelligence.

i’m basing whether people have higher intellect on their college majors, their academic acheivements and how persuasive/competent their overall knowledge is when i talk to them. The people i am thinking about when i make this post are almost exclusively med students, with one astrophysics student.

They are all college age though (the same as i am), so perhaps depression is more common from 18-25. It wouldn’t suprise me.

Well, there’s a difference there then. I’m sorry, I should have picked that up when you said “academically intelligent”. People that have their heads full of facts and do extremely well academically probably spend a hell of a lot of time studying. That obviously would have an adverse affect on one’s social life, which means, yeah, your average fact-filled bookworm is probably a tad lonelier than your obnoxious college fratbot. “Real” intelligence is a little different, so I stand by what I said before unless anyone has another idea.

Again, clinical depression isn’t more or less common at any age group. You either have the genes or you don’t. I think the high school crowd and to a lesser extent, the college crowd, may seem astronomically depressed, but that’s mostly because of social factors, not for any medical reason. For the most part, once these people that are “socially depressed” get out into the real world, that all melts away.

This article suggests that there is a correlation between higher intelligence and depression.

It is believed that depression can be caused by a number of factors such as heredity, environment, and psychology (how a person thinks about themselves).

The article states that:

“There seems to be a widespread belief that depressed persons are weak and ineffective. Actually, it appears that the more intelligent you are, the more you tend to create complex, negative scenarios in your mind…”

That pretty much fits.

Or to put it another way, the more you learn about the world around you, the more reasons you see to be depressed.

Makes sense to me.

Too true, ghostrider. Just what i was going to say.

But learning a lot and being intelligent aren’t necessarily the same thing. Would a truly intelligent person get all upset about the injustices and cruelties of the world, or take them in stride, looking at the bigger picture? The smartest people I know have very dark senses of humour. They can make light of even the worst things in life, because they see them but they can also see beyond them.

I agree with that first part, but not your conclusion.

Smart people tend to use humor as a coping mechanism, allowing them to see the absurdity in bad situations in which they are powerless to act – abstracting onself from the situation helps allieviate the pain.

Haven’t you ever noticed that all the actors and comedians in your life tend to have the most messed-up childhoods? Bingo.

I’ve noticed that less intelligent people, who cannot grasp things like irony or poignancy (which, lets face it, are complex and take a lot of introspection to understand) tend twards blame or violence in the same situations.

I can’t find the cite in my Social Pyschology text (Brehm, Kassin, Fein) but remember something about a correlation between those with depression showing higher observational skills than those without. Example: the depressives were more likely to be able to quickly and accurately describe an image they saw for a split second than vice-versa. It was NOT determined in this study, however, if the depressives were depressed BECAUSE they had strong observational skills (I can see the world for what it truely is, and boy does it bum me out).

So I guess it makes sense that those with higher intelligences WOULD have better-than-average observational skills. I’ll keep flipping through the book and try and find the direct cite.

I disagree with Project Omega’s assertion that we are not born with a specific capacity for intelligence.

Just as children who are born with mental disabilities can be limited intellectually there are other children who are born gifted with intellectual capacities far beyond their peers and the adults that surround them. These intellectual abilities can be observed at a very early age.

If you were that gifted person you might find yourself isolated from most of the population and have very few people that you could interact with that could meet your intellectual needs. That feeling of isolation could very well lead to depression.

I was a fairly gifted child and have suffered from depression most of my life although I was not formally diagnosed until I was an adult. Depression is common in my family so there’s also a strong genetic predisposition towards acquiring this illness. I am not yet sure whether my inate intelligence has helped or hindered me in this aspect of my life.

I am a functional human being only through the miracles of modern pharmaceutical science.

Depression occurs in every segment of the population and affects twice as many women as men. This could be due in part to women being more aware of their own emotional state and that they are more willing to seek help. There are probably more men who suffer from depression but because of how we are socialized, men may hide their depression or may be more prone to to self medicate themselves by using alcohol or other drugs.

Depression is very common among persons who use alcohol or drugs and can very often be the cause of the depression, rather than a symptom. I work with a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of depression and substance abuse and he has spent many years studying this correlation. He will treat people for their substance abuse problems before he will address their depression as he has found the depression is often dependent on the persons continued addiction. He has found that less than 10% of these patients suffer from depression that is independent of their addictions.

I believe that a person’s I.Q. may have an affect on how they interact socially as having a very high I.Q. may result in a person not having peers that they can associate and relate to. To others this may appear to be social awkwardness or even social retardation.

The phrase “I drink to make other people more interesting” could also have some scientific merit. By becoming inebriated a person might temorarily reduce their I.Q. (as well as their inhibitions) and therefore be better able to relate to a wider group of people.

This is an interesting topic… it bears further research.

Are there any volunteers to see how drinking could make other people more interesting?

I wish I could answer. But since I accidentally threw away the napkin upon which I scribbled what I like to call my “Theory of Everything” (I mistook my blood that I used to write it with for ketchup stains), in which I defintively unified the theories of General Relativity, Special Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics, I’ve just been to dang depressed to get out of bed. :frowning:

Untrue. Where are you getting your information? It sounds really off the wall.

And please people, let’s stop comparing “feeling bummed out” with an actual clinical depression. They’re quite different.

And yes, studies have shown that people who perform well on certain academic tests have a higher rate of clinical depression than others. Just what this is due to is wide open to speculation. What it means is as of yet unknown.


Oops. Sorry for the lame joke. I forgot that there was a serious discussion going on here in MPSIMS.

No cite here, just my observation…

depressed people think happy people are stupid. Therefore, if you are depressed it would certainly appear that depressed people are smarter.

(formerly depressed :frowning: Now happy :slight_smile: always very very intelligent:dubious: )

These two sites might be worth checking out - the first one has descriptions of the criteria that marks a person as ‘gifted’; the second is an article about the occurence of ‘existential depression’ in gifted people.

To be brief: being ‘gifted’ is about more than an IQ score, and gifted people are more prone to existential depression, especially at a young age.

Oh, and while I can’t vouch for the unassailable accuracy of his knowledge, my therapist says that intelligence, or learning capacity/speed, or whatever you want to call it, is definitely inherited - while it’s not fully understood, it is dependent on both physical and physiological factors in the brain.

While you can certainly improve your skill at thinking and problem solving, you can’t improve your ability. Forrest Gump can never become Einstein, no matter how hard he tries or how much education he receives, while a child from an illiterate, stone-age tribe from the jungles of the Amazon could, given the opportunity, be another Stephen Hawking.

Since, on a population basis, socioeconomic status is related to “intelligence” (with less “intelligent” tending to have lower socioeconomic status, eg. cite#1, cite #2), and since low socioconomic status is associated with more depression, I’d say low intellect is more associated with depression than is a high intellect.

I’ve been reading the psych textbooks here… Lola is studying psychology in college so we have a decent library of our own.

Karl - Intelligence tests are designed to measure intellectual potential and ideally should be based on how a person is able to think on their feet and not based on answers to factual based questions. Test developers try as much as possible to tilt the balance of tests towards measuring potential but unavoidably will contain items that are based on the test taker’s previous learning.

From your second cite: “Adjustments for economic and social differences in the lives of black and white children all but eliminate differences in the IQ scores between these two groups”.

This rest of the article shows that despite disparities in socioeconomic status there is no difference in the relative I.Q. of children from affluent or impoverished environments. Other research (from our texts) has shown that ethnic differneces can cause disparities in test results that are not indicative of higher or lower intelligence.

If depression is more prevalent among the poor it is likely because of environmental influences such as crime, poverty, malnutrition, drug abuse, etc. and not because impoverished people aren’t as smart as everyone else. In studies where children have been removed from impoverished environments and placed in enriched environments, the children show gains in their IQ scores.

More interesting stuff…

The notion of gifted children being weakly, socially inept bookworms has been contradicted in what has been one of the longest studies in the history of psychology. Lewis Terman studied a group of 1500 children between 1925 and 1959 and discovered that these children (whose average IQ was 150) were above average in height, weight, strength, physical health, emotional adjustment, mental health, and social maturity. These children developed into

Side note: Lewis Terman and his colleagues at Stanford also worked on expanding and revising Binet’s intelligence test which became the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale in 1919.

This research seems to show that persons with above average I.Q. and intelligence appear to do very well academically and socially.

On the other hand, researchers have found that children with exceptional I.Q.'s (above 180) experience great difficulties in maintaining social relationships and have twice the incidence of experiencing psychological problems (such as depression).

I work with developmentally delayed adults and we utilize a number of tests to determine intellectual potential. Most of our testing is based on an individual’s adaptive behaviour skills as most of our clients would score very poorly on standardized tests.

Although I.Q. scores might label them as being retarded further testing into their abilities would show that many of them are very intelligent and capable of much more than an I.Q. test would indicate.

So, is anyone else wondering why this is MPSIMS and not in GQ or GD?

No matter where this thread is, it’s a great one and what this place is all about… expanding our knowledge of things.

Preview is my friend…

“Lewis Terman studied a group of 1500 children between 1925 and 1959 and discovered that these children (whose average IQ was 150) were above average in height, weight, strength, physical health, emotional adjustment, mental health, and social maturity. These children developed into”

These children continued to enjoy success as adults.

I guess I should have said that depression may manifest itself more often at certain age groups, but you’re either born with the potential to be clinically depressed or you’re not.