If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you’ll know that it can be a highly debilitating condition that affects nearly every area of life. But while we all know the downsides to these mental health conditions, there may be a hidden upside, according to science.

A new study suggests that those who experience high levels of worry also had higher IQ scores. In addition, those with an anxiety disorder had higher levels of activity in regions of the brain that aid in communication between different parts of the brain.

The Study

In the study, 26 patients with an anxiety disorder and 19 healthy people completed an IQ test, along with a survey to assess their level of worry.

It was clearly found that those with an anxiety tended to have higher levels of IQ.

Surprisingly, the high IQ healthy participants had low levels of worry while the low IQ healthy participants had higher levels of worry.

Not Enough Worry

Humans developed anxiety and worry as a result of evolution, so it does serve as an adaptive trait. While too much anxiety can be debilitating, we all need some level of anxiety so we can respond appropriately to threats.

As the study pointed out, if there is not enough worry in society, it can have deep personal and societal consequences as we won’t respond appropriately to threats like climate change or nuclear weapons.

The study says it best:

“If these folks are in positions as leaders, they are going to indicate to the general populace that there’s no need to worry.”

Pass It On

If you have a friend or family member who suffers from an anxiety disorder, keep in mind that they’re also highly creative and intelligent. As Aristotle once said, “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”

Originally published at The Power of Ideas, Ideapod’s blog.

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