Robin Williams Death Reveals Link Between Parkinson’s and Depression

Robin Williams

The recent death of Robin Williams reveals the link between Parkinson’s disease and depression. The actor’s widow revealed yesterday that the actor was struggling with the early stages of Parkinson’s before his death, and that may have contributed to his decision to end his life.

Hearing that the Aladdin actor had been diagnosed with the early stages surprised many, including Michael J. Fox, who also suffers from the disease. Williams had always been a strong supported for the federation that had been set up for the sufferers, and Fox tweeted that he was certain that support predated the diagnosis.

By supporting the federation, many would have expected that the Good Will Hunting actor would have known about each of the stages. He should have been ready for them, and not given into the myths surrounding the “grim reality” that follows. However, there are reports that link Parkinson’s disease and depression, especially for those who already suffered from the mental disorder like Williams.

Parkinson’s disease affects the whole nervous system. It starts off with tremors but gradually gets to the point where a person needs help with everyday activities. The idea of constantly needing help can weigh someone down emotionally, and this certainly seems the case for the 63-year-old. By weighing someone down emotionally, those who already suffer from depression can become more depressed every day.

Williams’ death reveals the shocking link between Parkinson’s and depression. It shows that it can often take a very strong person mentally and emotionally to deal with the physically debilitating disease.

According to some reports, surprisingly half of all Parkinson’s patients suffer from depression. This can lead to the same ending as Williams if left untreated. There is support for those suffering from Parkinson’s and depression, and medical professionals recommend that sufferers do get the help that they need. The National Parkinson Foundation also recommends that all those diagnosed with the physically debilitating disease are screened for depression to help catch it as soon as possible.

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation puts the number of Parkinson’s patients suffering from depression to up to 60 percent. It also states that the physical disease can change the makeup chemically in the brain, causing depression to occur. Those already with depression could find the symptoms getting worse. Research shows that those with depression often find it much harder to go about their daily activities, which is frustrating and again leads to the vicious cycle.

Susan Schneider, Williams’ widow, decided to come forward about the diagnosis. She explained that the Flubber actor had not been ready to share the diagnosis with his fans, but she believes that it could help others. Rather than his death being in vain, she hopes that others will realize depression affects anybody and it is very important to get the help required.

Professionals also want to make it clear that the “grim reality” of Parkinson’s disease is not everyone’s reality. In fact, most people will walk around without anyone realizing there is a major problem. Just a small number of patients are affected so much that they are unable to do something.

It is possible that the 63-year-old feared that he would be one of the small number of patients. However, his depression was possibly made worse by the disease and diagnosis. Williams’ death has now revealed the full link between Parkinson’s and depression, and there is hope that others will now get the help that they need.

By Alexandria Ingham




Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

One Response to "Robin Williams Death Reveals Link Between Parkinson’s and Depression"

  1. Roy Nelson   August 19, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Robin was an incredibly gifted performer and brought unending joy and laughter to this world for many decades. How tragic that he struggled to find that joy within himself. No addict is a stranger to darkness and depression and Robin’s death is a painful reminder of this fact. I am so sorry he was not able to find the help and hope he needed to overcome his pain. I wish his family peace and healing.

    As an addiction survivor myself I have known the feeling of hopelessness. Through my 30 years of struggle I have “cracked the code” and learned to help other suffers tap into the underlying cause of what torments them and rebuild with a new outlook on life. It is only then that one can be free of addiction. As addicts will do even if they are sober for 20 years, as Robin at one point was, they will trade off addiction and obsessions in order to cope with the deep, soulful turmoil that plagues them if they never address it head on.

    It is my true hope that this tragic scenario will turn positive by creating a forum for people to openly talk about these issues and to seek help.

    “Love Notes From Hell: Stories of Hopeless Addiction, Obsessions and Recovery” due October 14, 2014.


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