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Smart people are more likely to suffer from mental illness

Actor, presenter, and writer Stephen Fry is a champion of mental health charity Mind, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006. Picture:
Actor, presenter, and writer Stephen Fry is a champion of mental health charity Mind, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006. Picture:
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

A new study has learned that more intelligent people are more prone to mental illnesses.

Researchers surveyed 3,715 members of MENSA, where having a IQ of above 130 is a requirement.

Their results showed that more intelligent people often have what is called a "hyperexcitable brain."

This means that their brain is more aware of what is going on around them which in turn causes their central nervous system to be more reactive.

Reactions can range to being startled by a noise or a criticism aimed in their direction, which leads to stress and other unwanted issues.

Dr Nicole Tetreault, who was a co-author on the study is quoted by Springas saying:

A minor insult such as a clothing tag or an unnatural sound may trigger a low level, chronic stress response which then activates a hyper body response.

When the sympathetic nervous system becomes chronically activated, it finds itself in a continuous fight, flight, or freeze state that triggers a series of immune changes in both the body and the brain-altering behavior, mood, and functioning.

The researchers were able to reach this conclusion after asking the MENSA members about their mood and whether they suffer with any type of mental disorder including anxiety, ADHD and autism.

Once the data was fully compiled it was then compared to the national average, which produced these interesting results.

Another co-author of the study, Audrey Kinase Kolb said:

If high intelligence was not a risk factor for these diseases and disorders, we would see a similar prevalence rate between the two groups.

However, in this study, the Mensa population had significantly higher rates across the board.

For example, just over 10% of the US has a diagnosed anxiety disorder, compared to 20% for Mensans.

For these conditions, having a high intelligence is related to having between 2 to 4 times the chance of having a diagnosis compared to the average American.

The results of the survey have been published by Science Direct.

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