Bipolar Disorder and Intelligence: Is There A Link Between The Two?

Last Update on December 9, 2022 : Published on December 11, 2022
Bipolar and Intelligence

We’ve long since tried to connect intelligence with our mental health and this fascinating topic has been a part of debates for years. But, has it been proven that mental illness can affect one’s intelligence or even other cognitive functions?

Well, there might be limited research on this, but there have been studies over the years that strongly suggest a link between mental illnesses, intelligence quotient (IQ), and creativity. Especially in bipolar disorder.

There have been speculations that people with higher intelligence have a greater chance of developing bipolar disorder, but is it true?

 Keep reading to understand the link between bipolar and intelligence and the difference between cognition and intelligence.

Bipolar Disorder: An Overview

Let’s start with some facts, shall we? Did you know that it is estimated that at least 4.4% of adults in the U.S. experience signs of bipolar disorder and that almost 83% of those adults struggle with their daily life because of their disorder?

Scary, isn’t it? But what is bipolar disorder? How can it be described?

We can describe bipolar disorder as a mental health condition that causes significant mood changes ranging from depressive to manic. There are two most common types of bipolar disorder; Bipolar I and Bipolar II.

Here are some common signs of bipolar disorder you need to be aware of:

  • Exaggerated high emotions and energy
  • Sleep troubles
  • Easily distracted
  • Increase in reckless behavior
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feeling hopeless and sad
  • Being irritable
  • loss of energy
  • Poor weight management
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

So, what does bipolar disorder have to do with intelligence? Let’s take a look.

The Link Between Bipolar And Intelligence

Research studies suggest that people with bipolar disorder are likely to have more than average intelligence and creative minds. However, there has been no conclusive evidence to support this statement.

Intelligence tests are done before the signs of bipolar disorder may even appear, so it might seem that people with bipolar have higher IQs before the signs even appear. Does this mean that bipolar disorder and intelligence are linked?

In a way!

There’s a Swedish study that says that students who scored all A’s were more likely to (at least by four times) be diagnosed with bipolar disorder when they enter adulthood. The sample study for this research was mostly males. However, it was also found in the same study that some students with low academic achievement also showed a risk of the disorder.

When looking at all the factors in the study, researchers concluded that intelligence was a factor in the onset of bipolar disorder.

Another study with army men as a sample study target found a link between a higher risk of bipolar disorder and earlier scores of high IQ, especially in the verbal and technical skills area.

It was found that there were more diagnoses of bipolar disorder among men who had a high IQ score but didn’t have other mental health conditions.

In a recent study conducted in 2015, it was found that higher IQ scores in childhood increased the chances of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in adulthood. The study results supported the previous studies where a link was found between bipolar and intelligence.

Are Intelligence And Cognition The Same?

The intelligence quotient or IQ is the measure of intelligence or a person’s ability to use logic, reasoning skills, and problem-solving skills. This is also called general intelligence and is often based on a standardized test. Cognition, on the other hand, refers to the mind’s thinking process and includes processes such as language skills, memory, learning, visual perception, and more.

Cognitive skills can be sharpened with practice and improvements, but IQ stays the same for the rest of your life. IQ measures your intelligence, not the skills that require memorization which is done by cognitive functioning.

Can Bipolar Disorder Affect Your Intelligence?

There has been no conclusive evidence that says that your bipolar diagnosis affects your intelligence quotient, however, bipolar disorder can affect your cognitive functioning. Cognition is the process that allows you to retain information and understand what’s happening around you. This includes memory, logic, visual processing, and other abilities.

Intelligence is the ability to learn new things, build a connection between things you’ve learned, and adapt to new situations with ease.

When you experience mania and depression in bipolar, it could lead to impairments in your cognitive functions. These changes are often temporary and can affect your thinking process.

An example could be; during depressive episodes, you may struggle with focusing on your task or remembering something. Whereas, during a manic episode, you may struggle with psychomotor skills, reasoning, and memory. You may also experience psychosis.

However, research has shown that despite these cognitive differences, intelligence in bipolar disorder is not impacted.

Final Thoughts

While there might not be many studies that link bipolar and intelligence, there has been some research that suggests a link between the two. According to some studies, children and adults (especially males) with a high intelligence quotient may have a greater chance of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

However, no studies say that bipolar disorder impacts your intelligence. Some cognitive skills might be affected because of the depressive and manic episodes that are experienced in bipolar disorder such as reasoning and memory. But even those differences might be temporary sometimes.

So, if you struggle to remember something or solve a simple problem, then it might be because of your symptoms, not because you lack intelligence.

 I hope this article helped you understand the link between bipolar and intelligence. Feel free to write to us at or DM us on social media for more information.

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You can also let us know your thoughts on bipolar disorder and intelligence in the comments section below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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