No one wants to struggle with a mental illness. However, despite all the suffering they cause, they can actually have some profoundly positive effects on the brain. These are three common mental illnesses that can boost your brain power, enhance your creativity, and more.

Anxiety: Boosted Intelligence

One of the most stressful parts of anxiety is the fact that you can seemingly never shut off your brain. From obsessing over tiny tasks to struggling with impending concerns, anxiety brings endless thoughts of the past and future. However, despite this nagging pressure, the brains of those with anxiety actually reflect increased intelligence. So, how do anxiety and genius line up?

A stimulated, active brain is often a brilliant one and the minds of those with anxiety are constantly moving. Fast-paced, explorative, anxious minds are quick at forming connections, are less impulsive, are more thoughtful, and are quicker to recognize risk and potential outcomes. In fact, those with anxiety disorders tend to report higher IQ levels than those who aren’t chronic worriers.

Depression: Incredible Creativity

The trope of the “tortured artist” is actually pretty accurate. Many artists suffer from mental illnesses, especially depression. Some might imagine that depression would hinder an individual’s ability to produce work or find the motivation to create. Still, many artists seem to find art to be an adequate outlet during spells of depression…and have produced some incredible pieces through their pain.

Truthfully, depression seems to have haunted all the great artists of the past, from Sylvia Plath to Van Gogh. But what’s the link between depression and creativity? It seems that the extreme, intense emotions felt in periods of depression can contribute to spectacular works of art. While the sadness, hopelessness, and rumination that come with depression aren’t required to make good art, they may contribute to creativity in those who suffer from it.

Bipolar Disorder: Profound Empathy And Awareness

Bipolar disorder can bring reality-defying periods of deep depression and euphoric mania. And yet, bipolar individuals likely have a stronger grip on reality than many perceive. The brains of those with bipolar disorder tend to demonstrate increased structural empathy. This means that they can often detect and empathize with the emotions of those around them with incredible accuracy. But this isn’t where the social and emotional awareness of bipolar individuals ends.

Due to hypersensitivity and depressive realism, people with bipolar can often powerfully perceive reality for what it is. As a result, they tend to develop resilience to trauma, heightened memory, and an aptitude to recover quickly after manic or depressive episodes. While this illness can be devastating at times, bipolar individuals tend to have stronger coping skills and advanced empathy in the long-run.