How High IQ Influences Your Mental Health

Along with fewer depression symptoms, it was also linked to better sleep.

Along with fewer depression symptoms, it was also linked to better sleep.

Higher intelligence reduces the risk of mental health problems, including depression, research finds.

A higher IQ is linked to less self-reported depression symptoms, fewer sleep problems and better overall mental health.

The conclusions come from a study of 5,793 people who were followed for decades.

The results showed that those with higher IQ scores in their youth had better overall mental health when they were 50-years-old, compared to those with lower IQs.

Along with fewer depression symptoms, those with higher IQs also slept better in middle age.

The authors conclude that IQ may have a protective effect against depression in middle age:

“Higher pre-morbid intelligence was significantly associated with less depression, less sleep difficulty, and a better overall mental health status at age 50.

These results were similar to those found at age 40 and they suggest that higher intelligence in youth, in both men and women, may have a protective effect on mental health into middle age.”

However, people with higher IQs were more likely to have received a depression diagnosis by age 50.

This seems to contradict the finding that they self-reported lower symptoms of depression.

The researchers think it may be because intelligent people are more likely to recognise depression and get help for it.

They write that one possible reason is that:

“…people with higher intelligence may also have higher mental health literacy.

Those with higher intelligence might be more able to identify their symptoms of depression, which could motivate them to consult a doctor for diagnosis and advice; they might also be likely to have accurate reporting of such diagnoses in the health module.”

The study was published in the journal Intelligence (Wraw et al., 2018).

The Psychological Issue One-Third Of Workers Would Hide — But They Shouldn’t (M)

The survey found that two-thirds would be ‘concerned’ about the performance of a co-worker with this issue.

The survey found that two-thirds would be 'concerned' about the performance of a co-worker with this issue.

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The Surprising Personality Trait Linked To Depression

The type of people who are more sensitive to negative emotions.

The type of people who are more sensitive to negative emotions.

People who are more open to experience are at higher risk of depression.

People who are open to experience are more likely to be imaginative, sensitive to their feelings, intellectually curious and seekers of variety.

In particular, people who are into art and in touch with their emotions are more likely to experience depression.

It may be because artistic people are more sensitive.

The conclusion comes from a study of 143 people who were given tests of personality, focusing on the personality trait of openness to experience:

“Open individuals exhibit an increased awareness of, and receptiveness to, their feelings, thoughts, and impulses, as well as a need for variety, or a recurrent need to enlarge and examine experience.”

Some people in the study had never been depressed, some were depressed in the past and the remainder were currently experiencing depression.

The authors explained the results:

“Depressed participants (both current and past) scored significantly higher than nondepressed participants on the broad factor of Openness, as well as on both Openness to Aesthetics and Openness to Feelings.”

Sensitivity to the arts is probably linked to sensitivity to negative emotions, the authors write:

“It seems more likely that individuals who are attuned to beauty and the arts might be more sensitive, in general, and might therefore be more sensitive to, and affected by, negative events and stimuli.”

An appreciation of art and the experience of depression may be strongly linked:

“…the experience of depression may lead to an existential ”reexamination of the purpose of living,” and consequently bring the depressed individual “in touch with the mystery that lies at the heart of ‘tragic and timeless’ art”


Similarly, Ludwig (1994) suggested that the experience of depression (as well as other emotional problems) serves to fuel the writers “motivation for expression, . . . providing them with the basic ingredients for their art’.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality Assessment (Wolfenstein & Trull, 1997).

This Change In IQ Predicts Increased Depression Risk

One trait that can signal a higher risk of depression.

One trait that can signal a higher risk of depression.

Declining IQ scores can help to predict depression with age, research finds.

As people’s scores on abstract reasoning tests decline, so their risk of being depressed increases.

Typical abstract reasoning tests involve analysing shapes and symbols for things like patterns and commonalities.

Abstract reasoning is a component of fluid intelligence.

Fluid intelligence refers, roughly speaking, to the raw speed at which the brain works.

This naturally declines with age as the brain slows.

Fluid intelligence is normally contrasted with crystallised intelligence.

People with higher crystallised intelligence tend to have better general knowledge, as it refers to acquired information and skills.

The study included 1,091 adults, who were followed from age 70 through to 79.

They were given tests of abstract reasoning and asked about symptoms of depression.

The results showed both people’s reasoning and their depressive symptoms worsened over time.

However, worse depressive symptoms tended to follow poorer cognitive performance, but the reverse was not true.

This suggests that declines in abstract reasoning could be causing depressive symptoms.

Dr Stephen Aichele, the study’s first author, said:

“Mental health in later life is a topic of increasing importance given aging populations worldwide.

Our findings suggest that monitoring for cognitive decrements in later adulthood may expedite efforts to reduce associated increases in depression risk.”

Symptoms of depression include moodiness, lack of motivation and tiredness.

Depression is also strongly linked to physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, muscle and leg pain.

Dr Aichele said:

“We hope this research will be of broad interest, both for individuals directly affected by age-related cognitive decline and also for family members and care providers who wish to help older persons adversely affected by changes in mental health.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Aichele et al., 2018).

Perfectionism Is Related To Higher Depression Risk — But It Can Be Reduced

How to reduce the damage done by this depressive personality trait.

How to reduce the damage done by this depressive personality trait.

The personality trait of perfectionism is linked to higher depression risk, a review of ten different studies finds.

People who are perfectionists are worried about making mistakes and they tend to be heavily critical of themselves.

They feel pressure from society to perform to a high standard and they think others are continually judging their performance.

When perfectionists fail to meet their lofty standards, they tend to get depressed.

Practicing self-acceptance or self-compassion is one of the best ways of dealing with perfectionist tendencies (see my ebook).

The conclusions come from research collecting together the results of 10 separate studies including 1,758 people.

The results showed that neuroticism, or ‘negative emotionality’ is the personality trait most strongly linked to depression.

However, being a perfectionist is associated with an additional risk.

The authors explain their results:

“In our meta-analysis of 10 longitudinal studies composed of undergraduate, community member, psychiatric patient, outpatient and medical student samples, neuroticism was the strongest predictor of change in depressive symptoms.

Even so, all seven perfectionism dimensions still predicted change in depressive symptoms beyond neuroticism.”

One aspect of perfectionism is feeling societal pressure.

The authors write:

“…socially prescribed perfectionism, concern over mistakes, doubts about actions, self-criticism, and perfectionistic attitudes add incrementally to understanding change in depressive symptoms beyond neuroticism.”

Perfectionism is problematic because high standards are so hard to reach consistently.

The authors write:

“…people high in perfectionistic concerns appear to think, feel and behave in ways that have depressogenic consequences [causing depression].

Such people believe others hold lofty expectations for them, and often feel incapable of living up to the perfection they perceive others demand.

They may agonize about perceived failures and have doubts about performance abilities because they experience their social world as judgmental, pressure-filled and unyielding.”

The study was published in the European Journal of Personality (Smith et al., 2016).

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: The Troubling Mental Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Taking a B12 supplement is one of the easiest ways to combat this problem. Adults need around 1.5 mcg per day.

Taking a B12 supplement is one of the easiest ways to combat this problem. Adults need around 1.5 mcg per day.

Depression can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, another study finds.

People with low levels of vitamin B12 are at a 50 percent higher risk of depression.

Around one-in-eight older adults in Ireland, where the study was carried out, have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Many more people are not deficient but, nevertheless have low levels of vitamin B12.

Other signs of a prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency include memory issues, confusion, irritability, depression and even psychosis, which is starting to believe things that are not true.

Physical rather than mental symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include headaches, fatigue, breathlessness and pale skin.

Taking a B12 supplement is one of the easiest ways to combat this problem.

Adults need around 1.5 mcg per day.

For those who have problems with absorption, regular shots may be required.

Usually, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency will clear up with treatment over time.

Dr Eamon Laird, the study’s first author, said that food fortification is one option:

“There is a growing momentum to introduce a mandatory food fortification policy of B-vitamins in Europe and the UK, especially since mandatory food fortification with folic acid in the US has showed positive results, with folate deficiency or low status rates of just 1.2% in those aged 60 years and older.”

The results come from an Irish study that followed almost 4,000 people across four years.

While a vitamin B12 deficiency was linked to depression, there was no connection with a folate deficiency.

Professor Rose Anne Kenny, study co-author, said:

“Given the rise in loneliness and depression in older adults after the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, this study highlights the importance of increasing B12 intake or supplementation to help mitigate against potential risk factors of depression in older adults. “

The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Laird et al., 2021).

This Personality Trait Predicts Depression 1 Year In Advance

The parts of the brain linked to this trait were shrunken in people with depression vulnerability.

The parts of the brain linked to this trait were shrunken in people with depression vulnerability.

Displaying a lack of trust in others is an early sign of depression.

People who find it hard to trust — which is, after all, at the heart of social relations — are at a higher risk of developing major depressive disorder.

And neuroscientists have found that the part of the brain that processes trust-based information is shrunken in people with depression vulnerability.

Indeed, this change in the brain can predict the onset of depression one year in advance.

Trust requires a leap of faith

The conclusions come from a neuroimaging study that examined the gray matter volume of over 500 people in Japan.

Dr Alan S. R. Fermin, the study’s first author, explained the motivation:

“Our question was: Can we use social personality information to predict the development of mental disorders, such as depression?

Having tools that help identify early signs of mental disorders could accelerate medical or other therapeutical interventions.”

Being able to trust others is crucial, but it requires an expectation that others comply with social norms.

Unfortunately, the world is full of evidence that people are not trustworthy: there is gossip, bullying, harassment and violence in many places.

So, trust requires a leap of faith.

People who find it difficult to take this leap can become isolated and develop depression.

Dr Fermin said:

“In our study, we not only replicated the association between low trust and depression but also demonstrated that brain regions associated with trust were also associated with the degree of depressive symptoms one year in advance.

Overall, we found that the brains of lower trusters showed reduced gray matter volume in brain regions involved in social cognition.

Also, we found that this gray matter volume reduction among low trusters was similar to the brain of actual depressive patients.

Thus, even though our participants hadn’t received any diagnosis of depression, their brains were already showing signs of depression.”

Reduced gray matter volume

The brain scans revealed that people with high levels of depression symptoms and low levels of trust had reduced gray matter volume in a whole series of regions.

These regions are involved in how we control our emotions and predict other people’s mental states.

It is not yet known what causes these brain regions to shrink.

Dr Fermin said:

“We hope that our findings could support the development of institutional and social policies to increase social trust—for example, at work, school, or public space—and prevent the development of mental disorders.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Fermin et al., 2022).

The Personality Trait Linked To Lower Depression Risk

Some people’s personalities naturally have greater resistance to mental health problems. 

Some people’s personalities naturally have greater resistance to mental health problems.

Extraverts are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or any other form of mental health problem, research finds.

Extraverts tend to enjoy other people’s company, are often full of energy and tend to be talkative.

Other people give extraverts energy and they have a tendency to feel bored when alone.

The conclusions come from a study of 441 people in Finland who were given tests of personality, depression and anxiety.

The study also found that people who are neurotic are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

The study’s authors write:

“…the personality dimension neuroticism is strongly associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms, and the personality dimension intraversion is moderately associated with depressive symptoms among participants in this urban general population.”

Neuroticism, the authors explain, is:

“…characterized by proneness to anxiety, emotional instability, and self-consciousness, whereas extraversion involves positive emotionality, energy, and dominance.”

People who are both neurotic and introverted are at higher risk of depression and anxiety.

However, those who have stable personalities and who are extraverted are less likely to experience depression and anxiety.

The study was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety (Jylhä et al., 2006).

The Simple Question That Helps Fight Depression

A question that can help control negative emotions.

A question that can help control negative emotions.

Understanding how you feel — and being able to describe it — can protect against depression, research finds.

Young people who could describe their emotions in more precise ways were better at fighting off depression caused by stressful life events.

Differentiating emotions helps people to regulate them more effectively.

For example, identifying a feeling as frustration, rather than just ‘feeling bad’, can better help a person deal with it.

So, the simple question that may help protect against depression is: how do I really feel?

The study included 193 adolescents who reported their emotions four times a day over a week.

When they were were followed up 18 months later, young people better at differentiating their emotions were less susceptible to depression.

Dr Lisa Starr, the study’s first author, explained:

“Adolescents who use more granular terms such as ‘I feel annoyed,’ or ‘I feel frustrated,’ or ‘I feel ashamed’ — instead of simply saying ‘I feel bad’ — are better protected against developing increased depressive symptoms after experiencing a stressful life event.”

On the other hand, those who did not distinguish between being ashamed or annoyed, for example, were more likely to let stressful life events get them down.

Dr Starr said:

“Emotions convey a lot of information.

They communicate information about the person’s motivational state, level of arousal, emotional valence, and appraisals of the threatening experience

A person has to integrate all that information to figure out — “am I feeling irritated,” or “am I feeling angry, embarrassed, or some other emotion?”

It’s going to help me predict how my emotional experience will unfold, and how I can best regulate these emotions to make myself feel better.”

It may be possible to increase people’s sensitivity to their emotional states, Dr Starr said:

“Basically you need to know the way you feel, in order to change the way you feel.

I believe that NED could be modifiable, and I think it’s something that could be directly addressed with treatment protocols that target NED.

Our data suggests that if you are able to increase people’s NED then you should be able to buffer them against stressful experiences and the depressogenic effect of stress.”

The study was published in the journal Emotion (Starr et al., 2019).

Why Depression Is A Perfectly Normal Response To Complex Problems

Rather than being an abnormal condition, aspects of depression are actually highly adaptive.

Rather than being an abnormal condition, aspects of depression are actually highly adaptive.

Depression can be a perfectly normal reaction to facing a complex problem, research suggests.

Rather than being an abnormal condition, aspects of depression are actually highly adaptive.

Being depressed involves devoting time and energy to thinking about the problem, trying to understand its causes and generating possible solutions.

Dr Paul Andrews, an expert on depression, says:

“Depression has long been seen as nothing but a problem.

We are asking whether it may actually be a natural adaptation that the brain uses to tackle certain problems.

We are seeing more evidence that depression can be a necessary and beneficial adaptation to dealing with major, complex issues that defy easy understanding.”

Psychologists label the state of focusing on problems to the exclusion of all else ‘rumination’.

Marriage breakups, chronic illnesses and other difficulties can lead to highly ruminative states.

Depressed people lose their interest in anything apart from their problems.

This can lead to the classic signs of depression, including disrupted sleeping, eating and cutting oneself off from social interaction.

To explore this problem-solving reaction to life’s difficulties, researchers have developed a way of measuring analytical rumination.

After giving the test to 579 people, they found it was related to depression.

Thinking of depression as a natural response to a difficult situation could be beneficial, said Dr Skye Barbic, the study’s first author:

“Instead of discussing the disease as a ‘bad thing’, clinicians may be able to help patients have insight about the potential adaptive purposes of their thinking and how this may be used as a strength to move forward in their lives.”

Dr Zachary Durisko, study co-author, said:

“When working with many people who experience chronic health conditions, depression is often the limiting factor to recovery and goal attainment.

The test can potentially quickly tell us when people are struggling to identify their problems, trying to set goals, or trying to move forward in their lives.

We hypothesize that very different levels of support and care are required throughout these different stages of thinking.”

The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE (Barbic et al., 2014).