Robin Williams’ Widow Says Dementia, Not Depression, Led to Actor’s Suicide

Robin Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider Williams, talked about the late actor’s struggle with Lewy body dementia and how the disease, not depression, caused the actor to take his own life in 2014.

In an interview with CBS This Morning on Wednesday (Nov. 2, 2016), Schneider Williams revealed she first noticed a change in her husband in 2013. “Robin and I had been together six years to that point, and I knew my husband’s normal baseline of fear and anxiety. And his fear and anxiety spiked and sustained at a level that was very scary,” she told host Charlie Rose. “So that was kind of the beginning, really the way I see it.”

Though she hoped the symptoms would go away, they only got worse. “It got difficult for him to even — even interacting with people became very difficult,” she explained. “He would question things afterward or during … in the realms of ‘Did I do OK?’ Things that focused around insecurity and fear.”

Lewy body dementia occurs when abnormal protein deposits build up over time and affect the brain, changing a person’s behavior, mood, and movement, and can be mistaken for Parkinson’s disease and depression.

The comedian was initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s and suffered from depression much of his life, but his wife said that Lewy body dementia is what put Robin over the edge.

She told Rose, “[Parkinson’s disease] is actually an accurate diagnosis; however, that was the clinical side. The pathology was that he had diffuse Lewy body disease, which is what took him. I can tell you in his autopsy, the coroner’s report was clear that he had Lewy body throughout all of his brain and brain stem — nearly every region.”

Schneider Williams recently penned an essay titled “The Terrorist Inside my Husband’s Brain,” in which she gives a detailed account of Robin’s condition and tries to raise mental health awareness.