Malnutrition and mental illness: Why a healthy diet is crucial for protecting your child’s brain function

Line up at the nearest Pizza Hut food buffet or McDonald’s trough and look around. While we are eating more than ever, we are starving like never before. Our blood, tissues, organs and every cell in our body is starving for nutrition.


White bread, made from bleached white flour, is literally stripped of its nutrition, and it’s a huge part of the Western diet. Pizza crust, donuts, bread rolls, biscuits and baked goods, are all edible foods, but they do not deliver nutrition to the body, leaving people bloated but starving. These refined carbohydrates are quickly converted to sugars in the blood, elevating blood sugar levels and then leaving people depleted of energy, fatigued.

Refined sugars are also a nutrient-void staple in the modern Western diet. Refined sugars have been stripped of their vitamins and minerals, leaving behind a substance that cannot be utilized or metabolized by the body. Refined sugars, found in sodas, sweet teas, juices, etc. are basically “empty” calories that act as poison, leaching nutrients from the bones.

How does the depletion of B-vitamins, magnesium, zinc, chromium and selenium from our soil, our foods and our bodies ultimately weaken our ability to think and make rational decisions?

How can the brain function at all if refined sugars and breads are the main ingredients being consumed day-to-day? How does the brain (which is 70 percent fat), function if healthy fats are not present in the diet? Avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds and the omega-3 fatty acids from chia, flax, hemp, walnuts and wild fish are all important for people who want to think and communicate clearly.

Why aren’t we reaching our hands back into the medicine cabinet of nature to bring back our clarity of thought, concentration and sharpness of memory? Have you ever considered extracting the properties of passionflower, brahmi, Siberian ginseng, ginkgo biloba, maca root, or ashwagandha to obtain their mind-enhancing virtues?

Starving for nutrition: Children with chronic physical and mental problems not getting the nutrition their bodies deserve

As children grow up in first world nations without these important nutrients, fatty acids and complete plant medicines, they become malnourished, constantly sick, sleepless, nervous and irritable. The Australian Child Wellbeing Project (ACWP) now finds that one-in-six Australian children between 8 and 14 years old goes to school and to bed hungry. This increasing subset of malnourished children is also having the greatest problems with headaches, irritability, stomachaches, low energy and sleeplessness. Malnourished Australian children are three times more likely to report two or more of these health issues every week.

It is not normal for kids to routinely experience chronic health issues such as these, but these symptoms are becoming the new norm in developed nations. As children become disconnected from the nutrition in their food, their entire organ systems become suppressed, not operating at their full potential. This suppression ultimately affects children’s ability to learn, behave, think, cooperate and express healthy emotions.

In this survey, malnourished American children from low income families were more likely to suffer from emotional, behavioral and academic problems, when compared to children from low income families who were fed nutritious whole foods. Starved children had the highest levels of aggression and anxiety.

In this American study, childhood hunger was correlated with anxiety and depression. What’s even sadder, is that when malnourished children are diagnosed with depression and anxiety, the root of the problem often goes unaddressed. Psychiatrists may intervene with psychiatric drugs which can elicit violent (sometimes suicidal), side effects.

Nutrient deficiencies can hurt a child’s brain function. For example, iodine deficiency can quickly cause mental retardation. Supplementation with kelp could quickly remedy this deficiency. Depressed states of mind have been linked to low folate levels. Oftentimes parents and educators respond to a child’s behavioral problems with discipline, but all along, the child may simply be trying to cope with nutrient deficiencies. A Bombay study found a correlation between undernourishment of children and lowered IQ, and a ghastly 60 percent rate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Other studies have shown that vitamin and mineral supplementation programs reduce repeat violent behavior of juvenile offenders by 40 percent. In school-aged children, anti-social behaviors were reduced 47 percent when children were given more nutrient-dense foods to eat.

Learn more:

Mental Illness: How to Spot Fact from Fiction .

Sensationalist coverage and our brains contribute to misunderstandings about mental health
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. For more than eight years, we have authored this column on facts and fictions in mental health, an opportunity for which we are profoundly grateful. Nevertheless, because of growing commitments and other pursuits, we have decided that this will be our last column.

We have written these articles for a simple reason: we live in a world in which mental health literacy is more important than ever. According to survey data published in 2010 by psychiatrist Mark Olfson of Columbia University and psychologist Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania, about 3 percent of Americans are in psychotherapy, with most of them also receiving medication. Moreover, as psychiatrist Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, observed in a 2014 strategic plan, the incidence of a number of mental health conditions, including autism spectrum disorder and major depression, has soared in recent years, although the significance of these rising rates remains a matter of controversy.

Despite its pervasiveness, many people are woefully misinformed about mental illness. This fact is worrisome because inaccurate notions about mental illness can be harmful. For example, the erroneous belief that people with schizophrenia are prone to violence can lead to unjustified stigma [see “Deranged and Dangerous?”; July/August 2011]. And the unsupported assumption that antidepressants are more effective than cognitive-behavior therapy for the long-term treatment of depression can dissuade individuals from seeking the most beneficial interventions for their illness [see “The Best Medicine?”; October/November 2007].

In this concluding column, we look back at our past contributions and extract some of their most important lessons. We hope to leave readers with a user-friendly kit for sorting fact from fiction about mental health and illness.

A misunderstanding mind
Several common errors of reasoning make all of us susceptible to certain misconceptions about psychological health. For instance, the availability heuristic is a mental shortcut by which we gauge the frequency of an event by the extent to which it is fresh in our mind. For example, the mistaken belief that most children of divorced parents display poor psychological adjustment probably stems from the fact that when a child experiences serious problems after a divorce, we often hear about it. Conversely, when a child adapts well to a divorce—as most do—his or her resilience is almost never discussed. As a result, we may think of divorce as more closely tied to psychological problems than it actually is [see “Is Divorce Bad for Children?”; March/April 2013].

Another common logical error is post hoc, ergo propter hoc, meaning “after this, therefore because of this.” Our minds are continually on the lookout for connections between incidents, which may lead us to conclude that an event preceding the emergence of a psychological condition caused the condition. For instance, many people continue to believe that childhood vaccines (especially those containing the preservative thimerosal) cause autism because the usual time for vaccinating children—soon after they turn one—comes just before the first signs of autism typically become evident. This connection in time is apparently more persuasive to many than the multiple, large epidemiological studies that have debunked the link [see “Autism: An Epidemic?”; April/May 2007].

Misled by the messenger
As information becomes increasingly abundant and accessible, the ability to evaluate articles, books and Web sites grows more crucial. About 3,500 self-help books appear every year, but few are based on research or are subjected to scientific scrutiny [see “Do Self-Help Books Help?”; October/November 2006]. Likewise, many psychology Web sites are replete with misinformation. In a 2012 survey of the sites of eight national autism associations, special education professor Jennifer Stephenson and her co-authors at Macquarie University in Australia found that most of them provided misleading information about the effectiveness of interventions. For example, of 33 autism treatments suggested on these sites, solid empirical support exists for only three. (Those three are grounded in the principles of behavior modification, a technique that reinforces adaptive activities.)

The mainstream media can also spread distortions, whether because of mistakes rising from deadline pressure, misunderstanding of source material or an overzealous desire to appeal to the public. As psychologist Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University observed in his 1991 book, How We Know What Isn’t So, reporters almost always sharpen the central point of an article and leave out peripheral details. They also routinely exaggerate claims in the service of a good story. On October 7, 2013, the front page of The Sun, a popular British tabloid, trumpeted: “1,200 killed by mental patients.” The headline implied that psychiatric patients had murdered 1,200 people in the U.K. Yet that figure included not only patients in the mental health system but also individuals who were judged retrospectively by researchers to be experiencing symptoms of mental illness, a judgment that is highly subjective.

Even when a story is more nuanced, the headline may still hold sway in people’s minds. Psychologist Ullrich Ecker of the University of Western Australia and his colleagues collected data last year showing that deceptive headlines, such as “Fears of Fluoride in Drinking Water” (which topped an article emphasizing the safety of fluoride in water), can provoke biased inferences about the story, leading to misconceptions. Thus, readers must not only continue past the headline but must also carefully encode any details in a story that contradict or add nuance to its title. We should beware, too, of misguided attempts to create balance in stories. Journalists sometimes feel obligated to present both sides of an issue even when the scientific consensus is clearly on one side.

We hope that this column and the more than 50 that came before it have helped educate readers about psychological health in ways that matter for both individuals and society. The tips and analyses we have offered over the years are hardly panaceas, but they can serve as a guide through the increasingly complicated maze of claims about mental health.

Selfies linked to narcissism, addiction and mental illness

The growing trend of taking smartphone selfies is linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks.

According to psychiatrist Dr David Veal: “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take selfies.

“Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to help a patient to recognise the reasons for his or her compulsive behaviour and then to learn how to moderate it,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

19-year-old Danny Bowman’s selfie addiction spiralled out of control, spending ten hours a day taking up to 200 snaps of himself on his iPhone.

The teenager is believed to be the UK’s first selfie addict and has had therapy to treat his technology addiction as well as OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Part of his treatment at the Maudsley Hospital in London included taking away his iPhone for intervals of 10 minutes, which increased to 30 minutes and then an hour.


“It was excruciating to begin with but I knew I had to do it if I wanted to go on living,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

Public health officials in the UK announced that addiction to social media such as Facebook and Twitter is an illness and more than 100 patients sought treatment every year.

“Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention-seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t spectre of either narcissism or low self-esteem,” said Pamela Rutledge in Psychology Today.

The addiction to selfies has also alarmed health professionals in Thailand. “To pay close attention to published photos, controlling who sees or who likes or comments them, hoping to reach the greatest number of likes is a symptom that ‘selfies’ are causing problems,” said Panpimol Wipulakorn, of the Thai Mental Health Department.

The doctor believed that behaviours could generate brain problems in the future, especially those related to lack of confidence.

The word “selfie” was elected “Word of the Year 2013″ by the Oxford English Dictionary. It is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.

Complete recovery is an option in mental illness care strategies

Complete recovery is possible, but the stigma should go

The incidence of mental illness is predicted to rise. Its economic burden would be the single largest burden among all disease categories in times to come.

The reasons are many. First, mental illness strikes people in adolescence or early youth. This is the time a person is still acquiring skills and training through education to become employable. Secondly, when one becomes mentally troubled enough to be called ‘ill’, they are frequently incapacitated enough to not be able to either continue such education for significant periods of time, or at all.

Managing a member who is ‘ill’ requires a lot of adjustment by the family. More often than not, one person becoming ill puts others through care-giving stress and emotional burden, in addition to facing the economic consequences of a person facing ‘disability’. More often than not, another person is required to look after the person, in worst-case scenarios on a full-time basis, which may rob the carer of employment opportunities. Managing a mentally ill member in the family also involves people themselves becoming ill!

Mental illness is not ‘traditionally’ seen as a form of disability, for no mentally ill person has any outward signs, unless they are severely disturbed and behaviourally completely maladjusted. Yet they invite scope for social exclusion. This means they do not even get the support that perhaps other disabled people with more ‘visible’ disabilities would get in society. Since for families too, the person suddenly becomes mentally ‘ill’ or their behaviour becomes unexplainable, not having been born with any visible retardation or neurological problems, adjustment to the appearance of mental illness itself is a setback.

Though professionals time and again attempt to give psychological support to families and individuals in order to help people rehabilitate, few people know that complete recovery is possible — even in serious illnesses.

If there is a way out of mental illness and some have successfully recovered, why do we not hear such success stories in the public sphere? The reason is the stigma: the fear does not leave people even after they recover completely. Not many want to admit they lived with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in their past, for they do not want to invite any speculation about themselves, their current abilities for work, their reliability or their marriage prospects.

In many developed countries it is considered important that those with mental illnesses be supported to rehabilitate and find employment, while also being enabled to live independently and as regular and socially adjusted individuals. Even when someone is classified as mentally ill, his or her right to happiness is still considered a valid requirement. Consequently many allied health professionals and therapists with newer orientations create outcomes of wellness in those countries. Increasingly there is also a shift towards bringing recovery in the domain of psychiatric concerns, rather than mere rehabilitation. This is particularly so in Canada, Sweden, Finland and Australia. Meanwhile, in low-income countries such as India the talk is around increasing the infrastructure for psychiatry, training more personnel, having more specialists who can deal with the increasing incidence of disturbed behaviour.

Bringing in more professionals to ‘manage’ the mentally ill does not really reduce the incidence of illness; it only shifts the focus from the fact that people who are suffering can be healed if offered other support systems such as enabling environments which are not just productivity driven but also humane, families that do not saddle individuals with their own aspirations and careers but let young people decide what they want to do with their lives. Of course these are the simpler things one is alluding to, and not the complexity of reasons that coalesce to create mental illnesses, when they do.

On the other hand, owing to the stigma, though many recover, few ever hear about them outside of academic and research contexts, whereas a whole world out there could benefit from their triumphs. This is simply because a lot of times the ones who recover do not go back to their doctors to tell them they have recovered, or that they have gone off medication. The doctors simply do not know.

In accordance with the shift that is happening in some of the above-mentioned countries, the low-income countries can easily move their policy focus more towards rehabilitation support and guidance, providing nutrition and employment to people rather than training more professionals to deal with problems that have no solutions coming that way. Shifting the focus will also mean the government will enable more people and families to be saved from permanent poverty, rather than becoming caught in a flux of illness that progressively enfeebles the whole family, and society itself, in the long run.

Countries such as India have a natural advantage in the scope of rehabilitation and recovery that we can offer, for our social fabric is not entirely fragmented and most people can still count on the family for support. This advantage has been reported in psychiatric research. Consolidating these structures with more training and knowledge, millions in this country who face insecure lives, future and prospects could be empowered.

Dark thoughts: why mental illness is on the rise in academia.

University staff battling anxiety, poor work-life balance and isolation aren’t finding the support they need

  • Sad/depressed young woman
Mental health issues among academics in UK universities are on the rise.

Mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics amid the pressures of greater job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system.

University counselling staff and workplace health experts have seen a steady increase in numbers seeking help for mental health problems over the past decade, with research indicating nearly half of academicsshow symptoms of psychological distress.

“Culture of acceptance”

A recent blog on the Guardian Higher Education Network blog, which highlighted a “culture of acceptance” in universities around mental health issues, has received an unprecedented response, pointing to high levels of distress among academics.

The article, which reported instances of depression, sleep issues, eating disorders, alcoholism, self-harming, and even suicide attempts amongPhD students, has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and elicited comments outlining similar personal experiences from students and academics.

But while anecdotal accounts multiply, mental health issues in academia are little-researched and hard data is thin on the ground.

However, a study published in 2013 by the University and College Union (UCU) used health and safety executive measures, assessed against a large sample of over 14,000 university employees, to reveal growing stress levels among academics prompted by heavy workloads, a long hours culture and conflicting management demands. Academics experience higher stress than those in the wider population, the survey revealed.

Tackling perfectionism

Pat Hunt, head of Nottingham University’s counselling service for staff and students and a member of the UK body for heads of university counselling services, said all universities were experiencing an increase in mental health problems.

“There are increasing levels of anxiety, both generalised and acute, levels of stress, of depression and levels of what I would call perfectionism,” she says.

“By that I mean when someone is aiming for and constantly expecting really high standards, so that even when there is a positive outcome they feel they have fallen short. So instead of internal aspiration helping them to do well it actually hinders them.”

Academics are also caught up in a range of cycles, from league tables and student satisfaction surveys to research league tables, that dominate thinking, she adds. In one case, a department’s top position in a research profile “became a poisonous thing because everyone then fights to maintain that”.

Hunt said higher education should not be stigmatised for the increase in mental health issues, since it reflected a similar increase in wider society. Figures show more working days are now lost to the mental health problems than any other health issue.

Nottingham offers one-to-one and group help to students and staff, including support specifically targeted at men, who make up only a third of those seeking help, a figure likely to reflect the continuing stigma over seeking help for mental illness.

Increased workloads partly to blame

Dr Alan Swann of Imperial College London, chair of the higher education occupational physicians committee, blamed “demands for increased product and productivity” for rising levels of mental health problems among academics.

He says: “They all have to produce results – you are only as good as your research rating or as good as your ability to bring in funding for research.”

Swann says most academics are stressed rather than mentally unwell: “They are thinking about their work and the consequences of not being as good as they should be; they’re having difficulty switching off and feeling guilty if they’re not working seven days a week.”

Academics and researchers can become isolated and not realise how “out of kilter” their working lives are, he says.

The intense pressure of doctoral and post-doctoral study, and early-career academia can also reveal existing mental health problems, he adds. Universities, including Imperial, have improved systems to help, yet academia remains “pretty macho”.

Uncaring academic environment

“There’s still a degree of ‘if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t be here’,” says Swann. He says there are “still people in senior positions in academia who actually don’t care”.

He adds: “But there are measures to counter that and there has been a lot of change for the good. What we have not been able to get rid of are the external pressures from government funding and the academic marketplace.”

Research by Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, on behalf of the UCU, offers one of the few pieces of data on mental health problems among academics.

Kinman used the health and safety executive’s health and safety at work framework to assess the views of some 20,000 academics, and found “considerably higher” levels of psychological distress than in the population as a whole.

She points to poor work-life balance as a key factor, with academics putting in increasing hours as they attempt to respond to high levels of internal and external scrutiny, a fast pace of change and the notion of students as customers – leading to demands such as 24-hour limit for responses to student queries.

Internalised values hard to shake

There are examples of good practice within universities which could be shared across the sector, Kinman says, but, as an independently-minded group who are strongly committed to their work, academics are not always straightforward to support. “We don’t like being told ‘you can’t email at two in the morning’. You can’t impose solutions from other sectors – academics are quite different and there’s no ‘one size fits all’.”

And internalised values are hard to shake. Nadine Muller, lecturer in English literature and cultural history at Liverpool John Moores University, suggests that academia promotes the blurring of lines between the personal and the professional – often described as “doing what you love”.

“This means that doctoral and early-career scholars are seldom trained in how to firmly draw that line and value themselves beyond their work,” says Muller.

UCU says issues relating to mental health are frequently encountered by its representatives. General secretary Sally Hunt says sufferers experience particular prejudice at work. “Further and higher education workers who experience issues relating to mental health face ignorance, discrimination and stigma from their managers and colleagues.

“Negative and inflexible attitudes can often exclude those with mental health conditions from being able to do their job. Often these attitudes can intimidate a person away from feeling able to disclose their mental health condition at all.”

John Hamilton, head of safety, health and wellbeing at Leeds Metropolitan University, says academics’ problems are often a question of burnout, which he defines as a “significant disengagement” with an employer, in which a staff member no longer feels in charge of their role.

Some universities, including his own, are working hard to offer support, he says, but while many could “definitely do more”, there remains a fundamental problem that some academics simply do not like the changes in their sector that have taken place over the last 20 years. “For some, it’s going to be a case of ‘I’m sorry, but this is the way it is, this is the political landscape’. So there’s an element of putting up with it.”

If academics already in post must wrestle with the stresses of fast change, what of their successors? Edward Pinkney, a mental health consultant working in education, says: “Institutions have a broader civic duty to educate potential academics about the university environment, so that prospective academics can make a more informed decision about whether or not to proceed.

“As universities become increasingly businesslike, there’s a growing need for them to be independently monitored to ensure that they are not just meeting basic standards of support for their members, but also that they are providing an accurate representation of academic life and not misselling it.”

Mental health in academia: experiences from around the world

PhD in health sciences at a Canadian university

“At the beginning of my PhD, the director of the department gave our entire cohort a lecture about not getting pregnant and told one of my friends when she applied for maternity leave that the PhD should be a time of celibacy. Some of our supervisors publicly and proudly exchanged stories of failed marriages as if this was the ultimate proof of their devotion to research. Others gossiped about promising colleagues who ‘would have achieved so much more’ had they not had children. All of these subtle and not so subtle hints guaranteed that no graduate student, especially those with families, would ever sacrifice enough for their research and would thus, by implication, always be a failure in some respect.”

Lecturer at the Open University, UK

“I had only been working for the university for two years when I suffered a severe breakdown and was hospitalised. It was very difficult indeed to even contemplate going back to work but thanks to transition counselling from the union I was able to resume work after nine months. The transition counselling was invaluable for a number of reasons; it was linked to work so helped me to begin to think about going back; it carried on during my first few weeks back in the workplace, so it was invaluable in dealing with my feelings at returning to that environment again; and it enabled me to see my mental health problem as being no different to any physical one. One of the hardest things to face after a breakdown is facing the stigma (both real and perceived) that occurs in the workplace. The union gave practical and psychological support, without which I would not have been able to return work.”

University of Maine School of Law, US

During my three years of law school, I had to come to grips with my acceptance of and seeking treatment for depression and PTSD. I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of support from close friends, but I’ve never shared these issues with the faculty. The law school culture is effectively one along the lines of ‘suck it up’. When I worked in the law school clinic, I actually hid and lied to my professor about the fact that I was struggling with suicidal thoughts because I was afraid of simply being booted out of a clinic I loved. While a very large amount of law students I have known have coped with mental health issues and even school-related nervous breakdowns, it’s not talked about, or even admitted beyond close friends.”

PhD in chemistry, Bangor University, Wales

“In 2010 I started a PhD in chemistry. A year on, and the pressure began to build, reaching the point where I had a nervous breakdown. I spent time going to counselling for help, but then decided to take a 10-month break from the research I was doing. Upon returning I was able to work for a few months before falling back into depression because I felt I had no chance of gaining the qualification I desired. I eventually got to the stage where I felt I was going nowhere and cleared my desk late one Saturday, saying nothing to anyone that I was leaving. While suffering from depression, I felt isolated, as everyone around me was able to get on with their PhDs. I felt I was the problem. I feel I received some support for my issues but more could have been done to ease me back into full-time study after returning.”

PhD in molecular biology, Uppsala University, Sweden

“My university and department supported me after I admitted I had been diagnosed with depression. In the beginning I took advantage of studenthälsan, the university’s student health centre. Their team of psychologists and psychiatrists helped me to find the right long-term support. Later, my depression worsened and I was offered a private psychologist at the cost of the department. Yes, my PhD studies are still a demanding job full of stress, mentally as well as physically, but I am glad that in the days where death was the only solution to everything, my colleagues, supervisors and other officials became friends that just wanted to help me.”

Facebook profiles may reveal mental illness.

Origin of Intelligence and Mental Illness Linked to Ancient Genetic Accident.

Scientists have discovered for the first time how humans — and other mammals — have evolved to have intelligence.


Researchers have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved.

This point 500 million years ago provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyse situations and have flexibility in the way in which we think.

Professor Seth Grant, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “One of the greatest scientific problems is to explain how intelligence and complex behaviours arose during evolution.”

The research, which is detailed in two papers in Nature Neuroscience, also shows a direct link between the evolution of behaviour and the origins of brain diseases.

Scientists believe that the same genes that improved our mental capacity are also responsible for a number of brain disorders.

“This ground breaking work has implications for how we understanbraind the emergence of psychiatric disorders and will offer new avenues for the development of new treatments,” said John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, one of the study funders.

The study shows that intelligence in humans developed as the result of an increase in the number of brain genes in our evolutionary ancestors.

The researchers suggest that a simple invertebrate animal living in the sea 500 million years ago experienced a ‘genetic accident’, which resulted in extra copies of these genes being made.

This animal’s descendants benefited from these extra genes, leading to behaviourally sophisticated vertebrates — including humans.

The research team studied the mental abilities of mice and humans, using comparative tasks that involved identifying objects on touch-screen computers.

Researchers then combined results of these behavioural tests with information from the genetic codes of various species to work out when different behaviours evolved.

They found that higher mental functions in humans and mice were controlled by the same genes.

The study also showed that when these genes were mutated or damaged, they impaired higher mental functions.

“Our work shows that the price of higher intelligence and more complex behaviours is more mental illness,” said Professor Grant.

The researchers had previously shown that more than 100 childhood and adult brain diseases are caused by gene mutations.

“We can now apply genetics and behavioural testing to help patients with these diseases,” said Dr Tim Bussey from Cambridge University, which was also involved in the study.