Depression and Parkinson ’s Disease: Robin Williams’ Perfect Storm



After Robin Williams committed suicide last week I was met with a barrage of people saying “What he   couldn’t just snap out of it?” “He was weak” and of course the all mighty “What a selfish prick.”

Then we found out that Robin had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and the tide turned to, “Oh what he couldn’t handle it? Michael J. Fox didn’t quit!” Well folks, anchor down for the semi- TYrade!

I will not stoop to saying that these people were narrow-minded.  I will  say that these people were misinformed and not educated in some of the facts about depression.

I know people with severe depression. I know what is involved and that medications are involved to control it. It’s not just something than comes on because you have had a bad day or your week was shitty or you hit a sour patch in your life. It is a mental illness. Severe and manic depression like Robin Williams had is an illness. No different than the common cold or schizophrenia.  It is the most frightening and darkest place a mind can go and sometimes not comeback from.

To someone in  a deep and severe episode of depression you could walk in and announce to someone in that state, “You have won a Trillion dollars, mazel tov.” The reaction you will get will be a vacant no responsive stare. No emotions. You could then add in after that announcement, “Oh and your mother, daughter and spouse were just decapitated in a car wreck.” The reaction will be the same.  Their mind has switched off.  They will and may respond only to a possible voice in their own head. Maybe.

Now, watch out! Here comes Parkinson’s Disease! Guess what one the first effects of symptoms and medications of Parkinson’s are?


Unnamed_Hurricane_01_nov_1991_1906ZIt’s becomes a perfect storm of despair that the human mind just may not be able to take. Imagine it as you see it on the news. Two storms about collide. Each one compounded by the other. Or another example would be the term, “adding fuel on to the fire.”

“It makes absolute sense that if you have a pre-existing depression and you get a disorder that by itself has a tendency to cause depression and you also just learned you have the disorder, it creates the perfect storm,” said Dr. Jeff Bronstein, a professor of neurology and director of the movement disorder program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Scott Krakower from Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, NY adds, “The Parkinson’s is another factor for depression” Patients struggling with both ailments suffer higher levels of anxiety and more problems with concentration than people suffering from one or the other.

People who are suffering from depression and make a choice to end their lives even though their loved ones are involved…sometimes, it’s just not enough.  We can do all we can on the outside to rest that scared and troubled mind but in the end, that mind will make itself up. The results may not always be what we want it to be, but it’s important we understand how dire depression is. It’s NOT a laughing matter. Even if you’re Robin Williams.

Educate before you dictate!


For more information, click on this lick to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been lucky, I’ve only encountered people who where perplexed, and deeply sadden by Robin Williams suicide. He was an ocean that shaped rocks. Most of us are all a little funnier and happier because he was here- not many people leave the world doing that on the scale he did.

    Would I want to be in his shoes? Or have ever walked them? Hell no. Who could really say what they would have done?

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Who Is Ty Sullivan?

Ty Sullivan is the Director of Marketing and Social Media for one of New York City's top restaurant management groups. He also speaks, teaches and designs Customer Service seminars as well as blogs on the subject.

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