Study links high child IQ to bipolar disorder later in life

According to recent research led by the University of Glasgow, the development of bipolar disorder during an individual’s adulthood is more likely if they also demonstrated higher levels of creativity and intelligence in their earlier life.

In Britain, one in every 100 adults is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and it usually develops between the ages of 18 and 24.

As part of the study, approximately 2,000 people were assessed twice during their lives – once when they were eight years old and then again when they turned 22 or 23.

Based on statements made by the adults, researchers ranked them on a scale ranging up to 100, according to the number of manic traits they had experienced and the frequency with which they had been displayed.

As part of the analysis, it was found that individuals ranked in the top 10 per cent of the cohort were also those that had recorded a childhood IQ almost 10 points higher than those in the bottom 10 per cent.

The full results of the study have been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and the research leader – professor Daniel Smith, a psychiatry specialist at the University of Glasgow – said: “Our finding has implications for understanding how liability to bipolar disorder may have been selected through generations.

“One possibility is that serious disorders of mood such as bipolar disorder are the price that human beings have had to pay for more adaptive traits such as intelligence, creativity and verbal proficiency.

“This work will inform future genetic studies at the interface of intelligence, creativity and bipolar disorder, and will help with efforts to improve approaches to the earlier detection of bipolar disorder in adolescents and young adults.”

The chief executive of Bipolar UK, Suzanne Hudson, said: “Research that helps identify young people more at risk of developing bipolar disorder is vitally important.”

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