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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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