High IQ, High Anxiety: Can Intelligence Affect Anxiety Disorders?
Feeling anxious – from time to time – is quite normal, especially when you’re starting something new, but did you know that there could be a link between anxiety and your intelligence? Yes, in the landscape of human cognition, the link between intelligence and anxiety has intrigued researchers and psychologists alike.
Recent research has presented the belief that a high IQ or high intelligence quotient could come at a cost – the cost of anxiety. Kind of paradoxical, isn’t it? But that’s the fascinating world of human cognition.
In this article, we’re exploring the association between high IQ and anxiety, what makes intelligence a risk factor for psychological disorders, and what can you do when your intelligence becomes the enemy of your calm.
The Curious Link Between Anxiety and Intelligence
Researchers for years have been trying to unravel and understand the link between anxiety and IQ, and I can assure you that understanding this mysterious link is like navigating through a stormy sea. Several studies – over the years – have shown a nuanced relationship that can go beyond the simple cause-and-effect relationship. While some studies are sure to prove a positive correlation between anxiety and IQ, some propose a more complicated relationship.
In a 2018 research findings, it was observed that people with high IQ were more likely to be diagnosed with psychological disorders such as mood disorders, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and even ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Another aspect that has come up during research is the link between anxiety and verbal intelligence. Verbal intelligence – our linguistic power – often acts as a double-edged sword.
The ability to comprehend and manipulate language is often considered a hallmark of high IQ. On one hand, verbal IQ allows us to express our ideas and solve problems, however, on the other hand, it can fuel a relentless stream of thoughts, provoking anxiety.
Studies have found that people with high verbal IQ may be more prone to anxiety. This heightened ability to analyze situations – mixed with an overactive imagination – can sometimes lead to overthinking and an increased sensitivity to anxiety.
Some research findings also suggest that people with high verbal IQ may be more prone to rumination. The act of overanalyzing situations can cause heightened anxiety levels.
In a 2011 study, it was discovered that people with high IQ were more likely to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). A 2021 study, on the other hand, suggested a strong link between emotional IQ, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. The study found that different levels of EQ can be linked with emotional distress, symptoms of anxiety, symptoms of depression, and over-worrying.
What Makes Intelligence a Risk Factor For Anxiety?
The curious connection between high intelligence and anxiety can be attributed to different factors. One of the factors could be “Hyper-Brain” – the idea that people with high IQ have brains that process information faster and more intensely.
While this ability can be quite beneficial in various situations, it can also cause a heightened sensitivity to stimuli, making it difficult for high-IQ people to manage stress and anxiety.
Moreover, the social and self-imposed expectations that often come along with high intelligence can contribute to anxiety and the development of psychological disorders.
The pressure to be perfect in everything, mixed with the acute awareness of the potential for failure, can contribute greatly to anxiety. The fear of being unable to live up to your expectations or standards set by others can also silently accompany people with higher IQs.
Furthermore, if you have a high IQ, then you approach things more logically. While rationality can be good, it can also become a hurdle and increase feelings of anxiety and stress. Not every situation can be handled with rationality, after all. This can only increase tension and make you more anxious.
People with high IQs are more observant, and this power can also make them hyper-aware of any threat – real or perceived. It can put them on alert mode all the time, making them more anxious. Even high levels of empathy – common in people with high intelligence – can make them prone to anxiety.
So, What To Do When a High IQ Causes Anxiety?
Well, acknowledging and addressing anxiety that comes with high IQ is important for your mental well-being. Here are some things you can do to take care of your well-being;
1. Try Meditation & Mindfulness
You can embrace practices such as meditation and mindfulness to ground yourself in the present moment. These relaxation techniques can help channel the restless energy of your highly intelligent mind into a state of calm awareness.
2. Be Realistic
You need to understand that perfectionism isn’t your end goal. Set realistic goals and self-expectations, and recognize that occasionally making mistakes and experiencing failures are just part of the learning process. It’ll help you come to terms with yourself, too!
3. Seek Support
The best thing you can do to calm yourself and improve your well-being is to reach out to your friends, family, or even a mental health professional for support. You can share your thoughts and feelings with them and get their perspective on how you can ease your anxiety.
4. Have Healthy Coping Mechanisms
You can also develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage your stress. Try to engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax. You can try a new hobby, exercise regularly, or spend some time in nature. Anything that can help take your mind off of your worries and focus on calming down.
5. Try CBT Techniques
You can also consider cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – an evidence-based therapeutic approach – that can help you identify and change negative thought patterns. CBT techniques can be effective in addressing anxiety that’s often related to high IQ.
Our human cognition is truly unique. To understand the curious link between high intelligence and anxiety, you need to recognize that having a high IQ isn’t a guarantee that you’ll have a worry-free or worry-full existence. Understanding the complexities of the mind needs a mindful approach and acknowledging the strengths as well as the vulnerabilities that come with intelligence.
I hope that by understanding the link between anxiety and intelligence and incorporating practical steps to manage anxiety and stress, you can use the power of your mind without giving in to the trap of anxiety.
Did you enjoy reading the article? Let us know what you think about high IQ and anxiety in the comments below.