Does Creativity Affect Life Expectancy?

Research shows that creativity can affect life expectancy. Research on veterans showed that those who demonstrated higher levels of creativity had decreased their mortality risk by 12%. Neurologists believe that creativity stimulates several areas of the brain, encouraging its functioning even into old age. Experts also suggest that creative people might be able to better manage their stress levels, lowering their risk of developing stress-related illnesses.

More about life expectancy:

  • The number of people in developed nations who live to be at least 100 years old is increasing by 5.5% per year.

  • Serious mental illness contributes to lower life expectancy, with some studies showing that sufferers can have a life expectancy that is 15-30 years less than the average. Some experts believe that the strong association between conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and heart disease contributes to the reduced lifespan of mentally ill people.

  • The mortality rate for women and girls is lower than that of males regardless of age. Even in the womb, female fetuses are less likely to die than males.

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Discussion Comments


@anon307654 - While the article might be right that there is a link between mental illness and heart disease, I think that link is less likely to be because of a genetics and more likely because people with mental illness are far more likely to engage in activities that can cause heart damage, like eating poorly, smoking, drinking and doing drugs.

They are also more likely to take physical risks, which is another possible reason their life expectancy is low.

Even being creative isn't associated with a magic bullet. If a non-creative person pushed themselves to engage in the same activities as a creative person then they would get the same benefits.

As with most things, it's really up to the individual to take care of themselves.


@indigomoth - I think a lot of people don't like the idea of getting treated for mental illness because they are worried about losing their creativity and spark.

But, speaking as someone who is very creative and also suffers from depression, I actually get much more work done when I'm not depressed. I don't feel like anything the doctors have done has changed who I am on the inside and it might have affected my mood, but that's about it.


@anon307771 - I've heard that there is definitely a link between highly creative people and mental illness, including depression, but also bipolar and so forth. But, the fact that being creative is associated with a longer lifespan, while mental illness is associated with a shorter lifespan shows that just because you are creative doesn't mean that you're mentally ill.

They do say that it's a fine line between genius and madness but doctors are getting better and better at managing all the different kinds of mental illness.

So, if you or someone you love suspects they might be having trouble, you should go and see a psychiatrist about it and see what can be done.


Is it possible that creative people can also have a disease like bipolar?


I liked the outlook this article gives people like me. Having been creative since early childhood, later on maintaining the "talent" but not practising it too much - though hopefully enough to benefit - I am now determined to take up my earlier artistic activities if only for my own pleasure. There is a long list of things I used to create, and now I can't wait to resume where I left them off. This will also no doubt help me cope with my current difficult and depressing situation. I just couldn't be bothered so far, but guess that I will now make it a point to be my good old creative self again.

I feel like thanking Wise Geek for this article reminding me just in time of what I need most at the moment!


I believe there is indeed a certain truth to this, as all the women (seven) on my mother's side of the family, were very creative (painting, pottery, et al), and all lived into their nineties.

My grandmother lived to be a 103 years old, and she was the most creative of all. She had an imagination and vision that were unequaled.


So if someone is creative and bi-polar it is a push? What if someone under the gun only seems bi-polar? Or what if someone only seems creative? Than what?


I think it's true because with creativity, we will be far away from illness.

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