An exploration of the relationship between very superior IQ and Mood Disorders

It has long been thought that a positive correlation may exist between an individual having an IQ score of 130 or above (considered a very superior IQ) and having a mood disorder. According to Wlassoff (2014), “the fascination with genius and an obsession with finding a positive link between high intellectual potential and depression and other mental disorders dates back to the time of Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C.” (p. 9). 

Today, scientists continue to explore the concept. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as referred to in this document is measured by well-researched and validated standardised psychological tests that measure intelligence and cognitive abilities. These include: (1) Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and (2) Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Adults (WAIS-IV) and Children (WISC-IV) (various editions.) According to Maron (2003), an average IQ score ranges from 90-109. The above average IQ falls between 110-119, and the superior IQ falls between 120-129. A score above 130 is very high and considered to be very superior, and often referred to as gifted.

Temperament is especially credible as an indicator in the discussion of bipolar disorder, as it is one of the underlying indicators of personality. Some people who could be notably mentioned in this category include Charles Darwin, Nikola Tesla, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Beethoven, Tolstoy, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Winston Churchill. It cannot be a coincidence that many of those persons were considered revolutionary or genius during their specific time periods and also suffered from a debilitating mood disorder (Pediaditakis, 2014).

A mood disorder can be a disabling condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2013), 9.5% of the population suffer from mood disorders, and 45% of these cases are considered to be severe. In the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013), bipolar disorder and depressive disorder (also known simply as depression) are considered

two separate conditions. The diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder includes at least one manic episode, which may have been preceded by – or may be followed by – a hypomanic or major depressive episode. Bipolar disorder is different from depressive disorder in that mania is a cycle of high elation and deep depression. Depressive disorder, on the other hand, is a state of constant sadness. It is best described as sadness that can interfere with an individual’s life and functioning. Depressive disorders tend to involve “clear-cut changes in affect, cognition, and neuro-vegetative functions and inter-episode remissions” (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 193). However, depressive disorder lacks the mania component, which is a hallmark of bipolar disorder.

In any event, it is hoped that further research on the relationship between a very superior IQ and the presence of a mood disorder may lead to a better understanding of the social and personality implications of those individuals from populations who fall into this category. Ideally, research will lead to early detection, more available interventions, and effective treatment for these individuals in the future. This study is composed of a literature review using various sources and databases.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). 

National Institutes of Health. (2013, March 18). Common Genetic Factors Found in 5 Mental Disorders. Retrieved July 04, 2016, from

Maron, J.P. (2003). Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. Retrieved July 06, 2016, from

Pediaditakis, N. (2014, September 26). The association between major mental disorders and geniuses. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from 

Wlassoff, V. (2014, December 18). Does high IQ increase the risk of depression and mental disorders? Brain Blogger . Retrieved June 27, 2016, from 

Written by:

Leah Selakovic


SACAC Counselling

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