Impact of Low IQ on Mental Health Outcomes in adolescents


Adolescence is one of the most critical periods of anyone’s life. During this time, physical, emotional, and cognitive changes are the backbones of our adult life.

Our IQ can increase from adolescence until adulthood, but it won’t change much if we don’t make any effort. Therefore, a child with a low IQ level must develop their cognitive skills.

So, you may ask, “What happens if someone has a low IQ level as a child?”. Well, if they have a low IQ and they don’t level it up, they might experience some mental health issues in this critical period of development.

The relationship between IQ and mental health in adolescents is an area of interest for researchers and practitioners.

If you are a concerned parent who wants to know what a low IQ means for your adolescent child, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we will discuss the impact of low IQ on mental health outcomes in adolescents. We’ll also tell you what to do about it!

Teenagers might also experience low IQ and mental illness, academic or social difficulties, and even emotional struggles, they are all manageable!

The key to managing these difficulties is to understand, prepare, and start moving toward improvement. So, let’s take this journey together and find out about the best solutions!

Understanding IQ and mental health in adolescents

Intelligence measures cognitive ability, while mental health analyzes a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

Research suggests there is a link between IQ and mental health in adolescents. They state that children with low IQ are at a higher risk of mental health issues.

Different methods have been used for analyzing this relationship; for example, regression analysis examines the effects of IQ on adolescent behavior and mental health.

Cohort studies have also studied young adults from childhood to adulthood to understand the long-term effects of IQ on mental health.

Another approach is Longitudinal studies which collect data at different periods. This approach identifies young, intelligent children at risk of having mental health issues because this mental illness can continue into adulthood.

Defining Intelligence In Adolescents

IQ measures intellectual abilities in adults and these abilities involve problem-solving, reasoning, and memory skills.

Intelligence level is usually measured by standard tests and the results are calculated based on average scores for each age group. These results might vary in different periods because multiple factors might be involved.  

Many studies show that those with low IQ scores might have weak academic performance and these issues can influence their social interaction, emotional health, and general quality of life.

The Interplay Between Low IQ and Mental Health

There is no direct connection between low IQ and mental health illnesses but low IQ levels can escalate different mental disorders. On the other hand, mental health issues can also affect IQ levels. Because of this relationship, experts usually use support strategies, because it can help them design the best intervention methods.

How Low IQ Can Affect Mental Health

The first challenge adolescents with low IQ may face is problems in academic performance. This issue can lead to stress, frustration, and anxiety. That’s why children with lower IQs have lower self-confidence.

Another challenge is about social interactions and relationships. These adolescents may have difficulties understanding other people’s emotions. This issue may affect their communication skills and lead them to social isolation.

Considering these facts, it’s not surprising that low IQ can lead to the rise of mental health problems in adolescents.

The Impact of Mental Health on IQ

As we discussed, mental health can also impact IQ and cognitive abilities. Adolescents with mental health issues may face poor concentration, fatigue, and lack of motivation.

Those are the reasons they cannot perform well in their academic path. These difficulties can also jeopardize their problem-solving and decision-making skills, which are crucial for intellectual development.

Study shows that early detection of mental health problems and treatment can help decrease their impact on the individual’s IQ. So, being on time is the key to saving children from mental health issues and low IQ!

Adults with good levels of mental health have a higher chance of improving their cognitive abilities and usually achieve a higher IQ score when they take an accurate IQ test.

The Role of Low IQ in Mental Health Disorders

Low IQ is closely associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders in adolescents. Studies have shown that individuals with lower IQs are more likely to experience anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Plus, depression in adolescents with low IQ is more frequent. Low IQ can also lead to the development of symptoms related to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Anxiety Disorders and Low IQ

Adolescents with lower IQ are more likely to develop anxiety disorders. Coping with excessive worry and anxiety-related difficulties. Anxiety symptoms can be an obstacle in the way of their comprehension and stress management.

Evidence-based interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), have shown positive results in helping adolescents with low IQ manage their anxiety symptoms.

Gender differences, conduct problems, attention deficit, and other relevant factors are also important when studying the relationship between low IQ and anxiety disorders.

Depression and Low IQ

Yeah, Low IQ can lead to depression in adolescents. This depression usually comes from their experience when they have difficulties when it comes to understanding and expressing their feelings.

This can make depressive symptoms even more severe. The presence of low IQ may make it hard to accurately diagnose a child with depression. So, they need to be seen by a professional.

Professionals and educators mostly use collaborative care models that have shown great results in managing depression among adolescents with low IQ.  This approach makes sure that the interventions are effective and tailored to the individual’s specific circumstances.

ADHD and Low IQ

ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is often related to low IQ in adolescents. This means that teenagers with lower intelligence may show symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which are common among the ones with ADHD.

The interesting fact is that by improving IQ, the symptoms of ADHD will also improve. If a mental health professional visits an adolescent with low IQ, they will probably take tests to diagnose the child with ADHD.

Research conducted through a systematic review of previous studies has shown that adolescents with lower IQ scores were more likely to develop ADHD symptoms.

Remember, ADHAD or low IQ are not exclusive to any gender. Evidence suggests that boys and girls with low IQ are at an increased risk of developing ADHD symptoms.

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Low IQ

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a mental health issue that’s often accompanied by lower IQ scores. ASDs can’t get high scores in an IQ exam, and a combination of low IQ and ASD makes them more likely to develop mental disorders.

Low IQ can worsen the severity of ASD symptoms.

So, what can we do with adolescents in this situation?

A comprehensive approach is great to support children and young adults with ASD and low IQ. For example, providing them with appropriate educational strategies and therapeutic interventions will greatly help.

Consequences of Low IQ on Adolescents’ Mental Health

Academic Challenges

Adolescents with lower IQs often experience difficulties in their academic life. It is known that the ones with lower IQs are not as fast as people with normal IQs when it comes to learning.

These children may need special teaching strategies and a patient supporting environment. Children with lower IQs must be given enough time and space to learn at their own pace.

What can we do to decrease the effect of low IQ on child’s academic life and help them keep up with their peers?

Implementing the interventions early on is a very important step. Mental health and education professionals will design personalized educational strategies for adolescents with lower IQs to help bridge the gaps created by this situation.

This is not something to do alone! If you want your child to pursue their academic path despite their below-average IQ with the least trouble, you should ask for help from their teachers, doctors, peers, and mental health professionals.

Social Difficulties

Another problematic part of having a low IQ as a teenager is forming and maintaining social relationships. Teens have this life of excitement, friendship groups, and partying.

Individuals with lower IQs have limited cognitive abilities, and it’s hard for them to understand social cues and norms. This mostly leads to misunderstanding and isolation, which stresses them until they’re young adults.

These children usually feel lonely, and they have low self-esteem. Being excluded from social activities and feeling left out are situations that make connecting to people even harder.

The most important thing we can do for these adolescents is social skills training. It gives them the tools and strategies they need to survive social situations. They also need an accepting environment and maybe a mental health professional.

Emotional Struggles

Adolescents with low IQ may also experience emotional challenges, such as feelings of anxiety and depression. They may be sad usually, which shows their quality of life.

In this case, what they need the most is emotional support and therapy. You should do your best to create a safe and supportive environment and let the therapist choose the best intervention method.

Therapists will teach children with low IQs how to cope with hard times and survive their emotional struggles.

Regression analysis has been used to examine the impact of childhood IQ on mental health outcomes during adolescence and young adulthood. The research conducted based on this method has shown a strong link between low IQ and emotional struggles.

Can a Low IQ Predict Mental Health Issues in Adolescence?

So, does anyone with low IQ have mental health issues? Is a low IQ only an early symptom of mental health problems in the future?

Let’s find out!

The Predictive Power of IQ Scores

It’s not like everyone with a low IQ will develop mental health issues, but the existence of a low IQ can show the probability of these issues.

So, IQ scores are kind of a predictor of potential mental health problems among individuals who have lower cognitive skills during their adolescence. Mental health professionals usually start their practice with an IQ assessment of the child since their IQ level could be a risk factor for developing mental disorders.

Limitations of IQ as a Predictor

IQ cannot be the sole predictor of a child’s mental health in the future. If the child develops their IQ, is in a supporting environment, and does not experience social difficulties, then they’re less likely to develop mental health issues as young adults.

IQ is only one factor, and you should judge the present and future of a child by their IQ level. It is important to remember that mental health is complicated with different faces.  

So, relying solely on IQ scores to predict mental health outcomes may result in incorrect conclusions.

What are the Long-term Effects of Low IQ on Mental Health?

If children grow up with low IQ scores and keep it that way until adulthood, they have spent a lifetime at high risk of developing psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

This is why it’s important to start working on low IQ and mental health early on.


In conclusion, a lower IQ can significantly influence the mental well-being of adolescents. Young individuals with lower IQ scores may encounter difficulties in various aspects of their lives, such as academic performance, social interactions, and emotional stability.

This is why you should fully understand the link between lower IQ and mental health issues; to offer the needed assistance and interventions to support your beloved child or patient!

Remember, IQ alone should not be considered the sole predictor of mental health challenges. There are limitations to its power as an indicator.

Therefore, the long-term impact of lower IQ on mental health should be assessed by professionals and based on different determining factors.

So, stop worrying and start making the lives of adolescents with mental health issues easier. If you think it’s hard to do alone, you should ask for help from teachers, classmates, and therapists.

By understanding the real needs of adolescents who are moving toward adulthood, you could increase their chance of having a high-quality life full of support and life!