List of Depressed Scientists (5 Mentally-Ill Geniuses)

In this article, we will give you a list of depressed scientists. The blog will then try to understand why so many scientists are depressed. We look at how creativity is usually associated with mental illness. 

A list of depressed scientists 

Below is the list of 5 depressed or mentally ill scientists: 

  • Charles Darwin 
  • Issac Newton 
  • Albert Einstein 
  • Nikola Tesla
  • Steve Jobs

There are great scientists who have changed the way we look at the world. As a matter of fact, they have changed the world. From inventing the very basics of electricity to the invention of supercomputers, we have progressed in the era of technology. This would have been impossible to achieve without great minds such as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and many more. 

However, every great mind has to pay its own price. This means that research has shown that people with a high IQ or IQ that is at another end of the bell curve usually do face certain mental illnesses. 

Here is a list of great scientists who have dealt with a mental illness. 

Charles Darwin 

The man who proposed the theory of evolution is one of the greatest minds we have ever witnessed. The scientific answer to how Earth was evolved and we humans came into existence was given by Charles Darwin in his book Origin of Species. Scholars to date debate on the mental illness faced by Darwins.  He complained of all sorts of symptoms and kept a very meticulous health journal. He had chills and trembling, headaches, stomachaches, hysterical crying, and visual hallucinations. Darwins was seen to suffer from agoraphobia that kept him virtually bedridden from the time he turned 30. In various letters written to his daughters, he has mentioned that he is forced to live his life all alone. In one of the letters he also mentioned his suicidal thoughts. He may have also suffered from OCD and hypochondria, as he kept meticulous records of every new or recurring symptom.

Issac Newton 

The greatest mind in the field of physics, the man who gave us laws of the world, the law of motion, and relativity is known to lead a horrifying life. Not only did he deal with one particular issue, but he dealt with a combination of various psychiatric issues. Historians argue that he has a lot going on in his life. Newton suffered dome a mood disorder called bipolar disorder. He faced a range of ups and downs in his life. He was also known to journal his absurd delusions. When these instances were read, he was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. In addition, with this lack of ability to interact with others and live a socially distant life a few also believe that he was suffering from autism. Be it one disorder or a combination of these illnesses, Newton still managed to discover the greatest laws of physics. 

A great figure in physics today is millionaire Elon Musk.

Albert Einstein 

The man with the highest IQ, the man whose brain is still preserved and displayed in the great museum, also was known to deal with certain psychiatric illnesses. It was believed that  Albert Einstein may have had Asperger’s Syndrome. For all his considerable genius, Einstein had blind spots and deficiencies that seem to place him clearly on the autism spectrum. With the high IQ that Einstein had, he was unable to speak until the age of 3, and when he did he had a strange habit of repeating things. Autistic children can also have problems controlling their anger. As a child, Einstein would throw tantrums so severe that his “face would go pale and the tip of his nose would turn white.” 

It is believed that autistic children are usually gifted in one way or the other. This what psychologists call the Savant Syndrome. 

Nikola Tesla

Throughout the 19th and 20th century Tesla is known to have made a great contribution in the field of science, especially physics. As much as Tesla was a genius, he was mentally ill. He didn’t like to touch anything dirty or round, and he hated human hair. The actions of his daily life required divisibility by three: He used 18 napkins at each meal, only slept in hotel rooms assigned a number divisible by three, and walked three times around a building before entering it. He also became very concerned about germs, refusing to shake hands with people and repeatedly washing his hands. If Tesla were alive today, he would probably be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tesla was obsessed with the number 3. Anything he did was related to this number. In fact, Tesla hardly slept at night, he used to endorse himself into work. 

Steve Jobs 

Steve Jobs, the genius who dropped out of school and managed to own the most successful software companies in the world can be certainly considered a genius. However, with his geniusness comes a bit of mental health issue. Jobs is known to suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. He spent half an hour trying to figure out which shade of gray the restroom signs should be. Hallucinating in the hospital after surgery, he demanded that doctors bring him five different types of oxygen masks so he could select the one that looked best. Jobs was so particular about his design. It could be said that it is his OCPD that has lead to the success of the company. 

In addition, Alfred Wallace, a colleague of Charles Darwin was also aloof and a lonely wanderer.  and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart suffered from mood swings. Beethoven was periodically depressed; Tolstoy was a strange, otherworldly, idiosyncratic aristocrat. Winston Churchill had periodic dark moods, Theodore Roosevelt had mood oscillations, and the often melancholy and otherworldly Abraham Lincoln and Alexander the Great were seized by demonic fits.

This is mere proof that creativity is associated with mental illness. For every genius mind, there is also a side effect to it. 

Why are there so many depressed scientists? 

There exists a relationship between creativity and major mental issues known since ancient times. The antiquated Greeks considered both as “having been moved by the divine beings.” Aristoteles, in his perspicacity, expressed, “There is no genius without having a hint of craziness.” This marvel has been confirmed consistently in examinations before.

The temperament with which one is born plays a very important role in the development of mental disorders. Temperament is defined as the particular inborn behavioral propensities for each individual, which ultimately represents the final brain structural reality.

In creative geniuses, there exists a major variation from the norm of the inborn temperament. This variant lies beyond the normally occurring variability. Referring to major mental disorders, Freud called them “narcissistic neuroses. This variation is also seen in people with the risk of mental disorders. 

The three conditions that develop most frequently in creative vulnerable individuals are 

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These may even overlap each other. There is a common neurodevelopmental origin from all three. 

Such individuals are usually seen to be aloof, socially distant, and questioning the ways of society. They may display wonderful “learned” amicability and class, however, they are, to different degrees, internally coordinated, self-governing, and lacking in sympathy and connectedness. They tend to “think” the world as opposed to “feel” it. People with this personality, carry on strangely and are regularly seen as whimsical, quirky, curious, or odd. They are frequently dysphoric and will in general feel an “internal void, and aloneness inside.” If progressed this can lead to certain personality disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse disorders. 

Humans are social animals. Our brain is designed to function for the social intercourse and management of certain social relationships. This dedicated-to-social-functioning component of our brain fosters the development of empathy, altruism, and cooperation, enabling us to show our feelings and thoughts emotionally. 

When these functions are absent or in deficiency,  it frees an enormous power of the brain. This power is then used in the functions of creative and intellectual parts of it. These creative people are now allowed to look at the world from a different lens. They are able to look at things from the novel conditions and come up with ideas that never existed before or those that were never known to humans before. This may lead to the development of various fields such as quantum mechanics, etc. 

Nevertheless, even if creative minds are highly intelligent, they may lack the emotional intelligence part of it. They may be deficient in understanding the algorithms that help us perceive and comprehend the emotional gestalt, state of mind, and intentions needed for social interaction. This in turn will then be classified as a mental health disorder for various reasons. 

Another reason could be that individuals with a higher IQ tend to build worlds inside their own minds, have more accelerated thought processes, and have more intensified and enduring reactions to stimuli than their less-gifted counterparts. So, when put in the real world, seeing that what they imagined isn’t the same as the reality, leaves them unable to cope.

Every great mind from the time we remember that exists has suffered from a certain mental health disorder. Creative minds from all the fields across ages have known to show irregular behavior. Painters from the renaissance era to the greatest writers have all given us their work as a result of their mentally ill conditions. 

Creativity is certainly a gift, but it also a curse. It all depends on how you see it. This shows that maybe sometimes being a genius is not so good. Anything in excess that marks the imbalance of the world comes with a repercussion. 


In this article, we have given you a list of depressed scientists. The blog has then tried to understand why are so many scientists depressed. We look at how creativity is usually associated with mental illness. 

FAQs: Depressed Scientists 

What profession has the highest rate of depression?

The five industries most affected by depression cover a large spectrum. From those who were surveyed, public and private transit showed the highest at 16.2% of workers suffering depression, followed by real estate (15.7%), social services (14.6%), manufacturing (14.3%), and personal services (14.3%).

Do geniuses suffer from depression?

Research has shown that geniuses are usually likely to suffer from a serious mental health disorder. They are usually seen to suffer from mood disorders like depression, dysthymia, and bipolar, anxiety disorders like generalized, social and obsessive-compulsive, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism.

Does intelligence correlate with depression?

Results suggest that higher intelligence may ameliorate the association between neuroticism and self-reported depression although no significant interaction was found for clinical MDD. 


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