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Having a high IQ might make you depressed, research shows
People who are verbally intelligent tend to replay moments from their day over and over in their head, which leads to higher stress levels. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Brainiacs, beware. Having the kind of active brain associated with high intelligence may also lead to stress and anxiety, according to recent research.

The study reported that college students with high verbal intelligence in other words, people skilled at listening, remembering conversations and understanding spoken or written words are often more likely to worry about everyday life events than their less-gifted peers.

As Slate noted in a recent piece reviewing connections between mental well-being and IQ levels, "the idea that worriers are cannier than average may just seem to make sense a worried mind is a searching mind, and smarter people may have the cognitive agility to examine multiple angles of any situation."

Smarter people can envision all sorts of worst-case scenarios, falling short of the "go with the flow" mentality displayed by more relaxed people.

The recent study echoes former research, further illuminating the link between intelligence and anxiety, which is often addressed in collections of advice for the parents of gifted children. For example, an article from The Anxiety-Free Child Program outlines the "overexcitability" that often goes hand-in-hand with high intelligence.

Gifted children can have "sensitive, bright and intense personalities capable of processing vast amounts of information from their environments," the article noted. But "a child who is operating at an advanced intellectual, emotional or (imaginative) level may find it difficult to fit in," leading to anxiety and stress.

Importantly, most research on the mental health consequences of being smart differentiates between verbal and non-verbal intelligence. As noted above, the recent study focused on the verbal variety, highlighting how being able to remember (and then overanalyze) past social situations can lead to distress.

"The verbally intelligent are tormented by their memory for detail, while those better at picking up on non-verbal cues are able to pick up more information in the moment and have less of a need to rehash events in their heads afterwards," New York Magazine reported in its coverage of the study.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, channelling non-verbally intelligent people's ability to leave past events in the past is not the only way verbally intelligent people can reduce stress and anxiety. They should also eat well-balanced meals, exercise daily to feel good, get enough sleep and aim to do their best, instead of trying to be perfect.