General, Research, Technology

Why do smart people get sick more often?

Increased brain sensitivity can causea receptive and creative person. But this is a double-edged sword, the researchers say. Typically, people with high IQs have an edge in many areas, with higher levels of education and income. But at the same time, highly intelligent people suffer from more mental and physical disorders. Scientists believe that higher IQs are associated with a variety of mental and immunological illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD, as well as allergies, asthma, and many other immune disorders. But why is this so? In a 2017 paper, researchers reviewed the literature and attempted to provide an answer to the question of what mechanisms underlie the link between high intelligence and physical and mental illness.

Highly intelligent people suffer from more mental and physical disorders. But why?

The connection between intelligence and disease

Authors of the study published in the journalThe Journal Intelligence compared data from 3,715 members of the American Mensa Society with national polls to examine the prevalence of certain disorders in people with higher intelligence than the average population.

The results obtained showed thatHighly intelligent people are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, 80% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, 83% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, and 182% more likely to develop at least one mood disorder. Moreover, when it comes to physiological diseases, people with high cognitive abilities are 213% more likely to suffer from allergies on the environment, they are 108% more likely to suffer from asthma and 84% more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases.

High intelligence: a risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitement

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In search of answers to questions, researchers also turned to the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which studies how chronic stress accumulated in response to external factors affects the connection between the brain and the immune system.

The authors of the scientific work note thathighly intelligent people are prone to "intellectual overexcitation" and hyperresponsiveness of the central nervous system. On the one hand, it helps people with high IQs heightened in their creative and artistic work. This hyperresponsiveness, however, can also lead to severe and long-term depression, as well as worsening mental health in general. This is especially true for poets, novelists, and people with high verbal intelligence. Their intense emotional response to their environment reinforces the tendency to ruminate and worry, which are triggers for depression and anxiety disorders.

Immunity and intelligence

Excessive psychological reactions to eventsand / or the environment can affect immunity, the scientists write. People with increased excitability can have strong reactions to completely harmless external stimuli, such as sound or even a tag on their clothes. This response can turn into chronic stress, triggering an inappropriate immune response.

When the body thinks it is in dangerdanger (whether the danger is real or imagined), it triggers a cascade of physiological responses that involve a myriad of hormones and neurotransmitters. When these processes are activated (and they can become chronic), they can alter the functioning of the brain and the body as a whole, disrupting immune function and lead to conditions such as asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

Often health has to pay for high intelligence

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According to Big Think, scientificthe literature has confirmed the link between gifted children and an increased risk of developing asthma or allergies. Thus, the results of a study published in the journal Intelligence showed that 44% of people with IQs above 160 suffered from allergies 20% more often compared to their peers. Further research reaffirmed this connection.

Based on the findings and previousstudies, scientists called this phenomenon the theory of integration of the hyper-brain / hyper-body (hyper brain / hyper body theory of integration), explaining that the over-excitability characteristic of people with high intelligence can put them at risk of increased sensitivity to internal and / or external environmental factors.

Reaction hit or run - a condition in which the body is mobilized to eliminate a threat.

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Reflections and anxiety accompanying thishypersensitivity can also contribute to a chronic fight-or-flight pattern that triggers a cascade of immunological events. In people with the hyperexcitability discussed above, including those with ADHD, this system seems to be out of balance. Thus, the inflammatory signals create a state of chronic activation.

The authors of the scientific work came to the conclusion thatcontinuing to study the relationship between high intelligence and various physiological and psychological diseases is extremely important, especially in order to identify causality, as well as other negative aspects of having a high IQ. Why do you think high intelligence so often goes hand in hand with depression and other illnesses? We will wait for the answer in the comments to this article, as well as in our Telegram chat.