Having an above average IQ obviously has many benefits. However, there are some less positive side effects. Read on to find out the drawbacks of having a high IQ.

Having an above average IQ gives you many opportunities in life. However, it doesn’t guarantee success and happiness. Understanding the drawbacks of having an above average IQ can help you to overcome them. Not all of these may apply to you, however, it is worth being aware of the potential side effects so that you can deal with them if necessary.

Here are 7 drawbacks of having an above average IQ:

1. Intelligence isn’t always valued

Unfortunately, when intelligence is your best skill, you may find that other people don’t appreciate it. Others may feel threatened by your abilities and play them down. In addition, people may accuse you of showing off if you share your knowledge. It’s a shame that charisma and charm sometimes seem more highly valued than intelligence.

To help you deal with this, try not to correct others in conversation too much. You may be right, but it might not help your social life to constantly point out other people’s mistakes.

2. You are at a higher risk of mental disorders

Some studies have suggested that those with an above average IQ are at more risk of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder. This has long been suspected. Many famously intelligent people have been known to suffer from mental health problems. From poets such as Emily Dickinson to Statesman such as Churchill and scientists like Isaac Newton, many famous geniuses have struggled with mood problems.

This has now been backed up by science. A study in Sweden followed nearly 2,000 children from the age of 8 until their early 20s. It measured both their IQ and any psychiatric disorders they developed. The study found that a high IQ in childhood led to an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder in adulthood.

While a serious mood disorder will need medical treatment, you might like to develop your own routines and self-care practices to help you maintain a steady mood. Eating regularly, getting some exercise each day, being social and undertaking practices such as yoga or meditation can all help.

3. You might not learn the value of hard work.

If you are used to achieving success at school with little effort, this might mean that you fail to develop a strong work ethic. This is why many geniuses fail to reach their full potential. Even those with a high IQ at some point have to work hard to make the most of their skills.

Luckily, you can practice developing a good work ethic at any stage of life. Set yourself some targets that stretch your abilities and make sure you achieve them. Having an accountability partner can help.

4. You may struggle socially

Having a high IQ can cause you to struggle with social interactions for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, people may avoid you as being with someone intelligent can make them feel less intelligent. This may not necessarily be a conscious decision, but whether it is or not, it can be hard to make friends if people choose not to spend time with you because of your IQ.

Secondly, studies suggest that you are more likely to have social anxiety. Research at Lakehead University showed that those with a high level of anxiety scored higher on verbal intelligence tests than those who did not have raised levels of anxiety.

In addition, some highly intelligent people struggle with developing good social skills.

Luckily, there are bound to be loads of people that would love to be friends with you. Try to make friends based on a common interest where you can share information with those who will appreciate it as well as learning from others.

4. You may not have good leadership skills

A Swiss study followed middle managers and evaluated their leadership styles. They were followed over six years and their leadership styles evaluated by seven or eight separate people. The study found that personality and intelligence are important leadership skills. However, the results suggested that those with an IQ of over 128 were less effective as leaders.

Leadership is a skill that can be learned, so if you feel you struggle in this area, consider taking a course or reading a leadership book.

5. You understand how much you don’t know.

The more intelligent you are, the more you realise you don’t know. When intelligence is your biggest strength, it can knock your confidence when you realize that there are always areas of knowledge that will be beyond your understanding.

It is an uncomfortable truth that the more you know the less you feel you know.

6. You may be more prone to addictions

Studies have shown that highly intelligent children are more likely to become addicted to illegal substances in adulthood. Those with an above average IQ are more likely to use drugs including marijuana, ecstasy, amphetamines and heroin. Be aware of the potential draw of illegal substances and get help if you need it.

7. You may overthink

Intelligent people spend a lot of time in their heads, thinking. This can sometimes lead to overthinking. Sometimes intelligent people analyse everything to such a degree that it interferes with normal life and decision making and can ultimately lead to unhappiness and depression.

Closing thoughts

So being highly intelligent is not always easy. However, being aware of the pitfalls can help intelligent people overcome these drawbacks and lead happier and more successful lives.

You can work on your social skills and ensure you have the support you need to deal with emotional issues that may arise as a result of your intelligence. You can also work on developing a good work ethic, deal with overthinking and set up routines to help you relax and cope with anxiety and depression.


  1. https://www.cambridge.org
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267336663
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315718107
  4. http://jech.bmj.com/content/66/9/767

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