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How Depression Impacts One’s Intelligence/IQ?

When the coronavirus crept in and paralyzed the world wherein it made people be physically restrained with their movements and have limited interpersonal interactions. This Pandemic did not only affect the physical condition of the populace but along with it is the stricter social movement that may also lead to a clinical condition being oftentimes referred to as “depression.”

Let me make it clear that depression is not a sort of psychosis. The state of depression is that the person has a skewed perception of reality as something that is negative. The level of depression has varying degrees from mild depressive symptoms to much more severe depression. Those who are experiencing mild depression oftentimes exhibited a lack of motivation and appetite, while those who are in a severe state oftentimes felt worthless, and there is always a suicidal tendency.

Most of us at some point in our lives could have been in a state of depression where we view things in a negative spectrum, and we lose our sense of vitality and energy to go on with our lives wherein we see life as something as “pointless.”

There are various factors that trigger depression it may be genetic, environmental factors, trauma, emotional and physical trauma, and bullying. These factors are contributory factors that lead to the state of depression.

Sometimes it just crops up during the adult stage, but it is deeply rooted in his or her childhood trauma and experience. The experience may bring back old wounds and painful memories.

It is a false assumption that depression is a mental illness, for it is not, but it is just a sponge that absorbs the joyful energy in the person. But somehow, there are psychotic manifestations that may be exhibited by a person depressed. Psychosis is a mental illness wherein the person is already delusional, of which there may be a distorted reality. The delusional individual may fabricate things, imaginative reality, and warped memories.

Despite the fact that there may be some “psychotic symptoms” exhibited by the person in the state of depression, still it is not being categorized as a mental illness. But it affects both the cognitive and the emotional state of the person.

Correlation of High intelligence to depression

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Some experts have claimed that those people who have highly developed intelligence are prone and susceptible to depression. History pages had shown to us that Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickenson, and Abraham Lincoln are people who got highly developed intelligence but also experience depression in their lives. 

Oftentimes intelligence is being correlated with depression; however, it is still being debated upon if indeed there is a basis to correlate intelligence to depression. Such hypothetical assumption may be as old as the scientific method, but still, there is no existing theory that can support the assumption.

But looking from a different perspective, it can be viewed that intelligent people are oftentimes susceptible to depression, probably because they are critical thinkers. They tend to analyze every minutest detail that makes them overthink. They become very hypersensitive to everything that is happening in their lives.

As they say that you can immediately gauge the difference between intelligent people from a mediocre for a mediocre person tends to surround himself or herself with people in order to be happy, but an intelligent individual finds happiness by being himself.

An intelligent person has an intrinsic characteristic and thereby has less active social activities. It may be the reason why they can easily break down when they experience an event that is not favorable to them. Lack of emotional support and friends can easily make the person feel depressed and eventually view life in its negativity. 

People having creative intelligence, experiencing social withdrawal, having low emotional intelligence, and lack of the ability to connect the dots will have a high risk of running into depression.

Based on a research, it has been found out that most of those who have experienced “depression” are those people who excelled and have a high aptitude in the areas of humanities, music, arts, and linguistics than those people that excelled in mathematics and science.

Despite the fact that intelligence and depression are being superficially linked, but there is still no direct scientific explanation that links the two. It is just being assumed that intelligent person tends to overthink, live a secluded life, lacks emotional support and social activities that make them prone to depression.

Ignorance is a bliss

The deeper you get to know things, the more you become skeptical and critical of those things, and that if it does not work or function according to what you expected, it sometimes may lead to depression. It may be a stereotyping act to state that those who got a low average IQ tend to be happy for the reason that they do not make some critical analysis about their lives. Ignorance bliss makes an individual happy for the reason that they do not analyze things deeply, and they just accept life as it is. As they say, “go with the flow” is the main ingredient for one not to be depressed.

Does Depression Decrease One’s Intelligence/IQ?

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If a high level of intelligence is superficially linked to depression, the question boils down to whether the state of depression may diminish the level of intelligence of the person. There are some studies that have been conducted, and it showed that the state of depression might lead to the “detrimental development of the frontal lobe.” It is a condition that is being seen to be the cause of lowering the level of intelligence of the person, for he or she may be focused on depression rather than to think intelligently.

When the person cannot focus and think correctly, his or her cognitive functions may be affected. It is now being seen that depression lowers the intelligence of the person.

What is the connection?

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It was scientifically seen that in depression, there is the reduction or interruption of the chemical messengers that are transmitted to the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The chemical changes are the direct cause that may trigger depression.

Being in the depressive state may affect some of the cognitive functions such as having memory gaps wherein it has been shown that depressed individual has a tendency to be forgetful or may at times forget some meaningful life events.

These people have also been encountering difficulty in focusing on their tasks or job. Apparently, they are also not decisive and show the inability to make a definite decision. These are just some of the manifestations that can show that, indeed, depression has an impact on the cognitive abilities of the person.

Most of these conditions may also be seen when the person is overstressed, for the person may exhibit manifestations such as having problems in memory, attention, and executive function. It may even be mistaken as mild dementia.

Clinical Study

A clinical study has been conducted in order to assess whether the person in the state of depression has a diminished level of intelligence. The clinical examination has been conducted between two controlled groups, the group that has “normal controls” and the second group is the “depressed individuals.” Based on the scores, it has been shown that both groups are the same when it comes to verbal ability; however, the test showed that depressed individuals have a deficit performance IQ

The discrepancy in verbal and IQ may be seen as prevalent in the depressed individual. It may just confirm the fact that depression decreases the level of intelligence of the person, specifically his cognitive abilities. The result was based both on the examination and sampling done with a time constraint and without time constraint.  


Depression may not be a mental illness, but proper treatment must be administered to the person who may be in a state of depression. This, in a way, prevents the mental deterioration of the person that was being triggered by depression.

“Treating depression: Beyond medication will go a long way toward improving your thinking skills. That’s a real target of depression treatment for older adults. Treatment often leads to a marked improvement in thinking, memory, and executive function,” muses by Dr. Helen Farrell. She is a psychiatrist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center which happens to be Harvard-affiliated.

There are available remedies that can properly treat depression. It may be in the form of prescribed pills, or it may even be prescribe-pill-free therapy. If the person is just experiencing mild depression, the prescribed-pill-free therapy may be the best form of treatment. 

Doctors may recommend that the person undergoes some aerobic exercises and talk therapy. These activities are being seen as an effective way of combating depression. The physical activity of aerobics improves memory, blood circulation, and thought to process. The second treatment, which is talk therapy, gives the person the venue for him or her to air out his or her pain and life challenges. In talk therapy already involves psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy that redirects the negativity into something that is positive.