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Mood Disorders Are Linked To Higher Intelligence, Science Says

Mood Disorders Are Linked To Higher Intelligence, Science Says

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”- Aristotle

Today, doctors are ready to prescribe pharmaceuticals at the first signs of a mood disorder in order to control any unpredictable behavior. But, are they potentially stifling genius thought processes? As it turns out, many mood disorders have been positively linked to higher levels of intelligence and creativity.

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Since ancient times, people have associated “madness” with creative genius, believing the gods had blessed these individuals. These beliefs have carried on to the modern times, leading to the understanding of the infamous phenomenon of artistic temperament or the tortured artist characterization. Recently, researchers have discovered why this happens.

Writers and Mood Disorders

In the late 1980’s, researchers compared a sample group of writers to a control group of non-writers in order to identify the presence of mental disorders. Their findings concluded that the majority of writers did, indeed, have higher rates of mood disorders. In fact, 80% of the sample group had a mood disorder with a tendency toward bipolar disorder. The study was replicated with some different criterion and included a wider range of writers who had won awards. The researchers did not diagnose them, but rather asked if the subjects had received treatment for mental disorders. In this study, 38% of the participants had received treatment, and 63% of those were playwrights.

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Types of Mood Disorders

As previously mentioned, the link between creative intelligence and mood disorders has long been established. But, what exactly are the common mood disorders found in intelligent people? Some of the most influential artists of all time were inflicted with bipolar disorder, mania, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder seems to be the most common of the mood disorders in highly intelligent and creative people. For example, in one study, it has been shown to be four times more likely in young adults who earned straight A’s in school. This finding was particularly true for high achievers in language, music, and math classes. Another study found that people with a genetic likelihood of developing bipolar disorder were also likely to express higher creative intelligence. This was shown to be true in literature and leadership roles. This mood disorder leads to periods of depression followed by periods of mania, characterized by extreme happiness, ambition, and creativity.

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The Burden of High Intelligence

Not only does a high IQ come with the propensity for mood disorders, but also risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use. This is because drug and alcohol consumption is a relatively new occurrence on the human evolutionary timeline making it an evolutionarily novel concept. Children who were considered the brightest in their classroom are more likely to grow up and experiment with drugs and alcohol as several studies have suggested.

Brain Power, Social Interaction, and Autism

Medical researchers suggest that the human brain controls several different areas of survival. One of these, social interaction, takes up a large part of the brain’s functionality. This area of the brain helps with the development of cooperation, empathy, and altruism. When this brain function is non-existent or underdeveloped, a large quantity of cerebral activity is liberated for other uses.

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In the right person, this extra brain power can be channeled into creative energy. These individuals may go on to create moving pieces of art, explanations of previously misunderstood world processes, or even refining mathematical research. Lacking the social interactive part of brain functionality and replacing it with creative intelligence may be related to diagnoses of autism.

Brain Activity and Creative Intelligence

Other researchers have explained that when a person comes out of depression or other mood disorder episodes, the activity in the brain changes. In the lower part of the frontal lobe, brain activity decreases and shifts to the upper part of the lobe. This same brain activity is noted when people are experiencing creativity. Additionally, people with mood disorders do not have the same processing filters for outside stimuli as people without these disorders. These people are able to process contradictory ideas at the same time thereby identifying associations among previously unassociated ideas. This thought process can be overwhelming for individuals, but this also results in creative productivity.

Whether it is the mood disorder that leads to higher intelligence or the higher intelligence that leads to mood disorders, continues to be a point of contention for many researchers. One thing is certain, the two are most certainly connected.

Featured photo credit: www.picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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