The death of iconic comedian Robin Williams is still fresh in the minds and hearts of the public, with memorials and acts of remembrance taking place across the country.

Williams passing has also shed light on his overall health; both mental and physical.

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Following Williams apparent suicide by hanging, questions about his battle with depression began surfacing, shedding light on a mental health issue that many turn a blind eye to or simply don’t know how to address.

However, a statement provided by Williams’ wife Susan Schneider revealed another personal battle the world-class comedian was facing: Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease and it’s symptoms are by no means new illnesses.  In fact, the disease gained much of its attention from other famous people, most notably actor Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali, and singer Johnny Cash.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs mainly in males over the age of 50 and causes uncontrollable shakes, tremors, and seizures.

Progression of the disease can eventually lead to thinking and behavioral problems.  Mortality in those suffering from Parkinson’s is twice as likely as those not suffering, reducing the life expectancy of Parkinson’s sufferers tremendously.

Parkinson’s Disease is an idiopathic disease, meaning it has no known, specific cause.

Numerous studies have cited environmental factors, such as exposure to insecticides, head injuries, and farming as being closely associated with developing the disease.

Research has also found that there may be a genetic tie to the disease.

Parkinson’s Disease and Depression

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The disease is crippling, sparking many of the depressive symptoms associated with it.

At the time of Williams’ death he was sober but dealing with depression and anxiety, as well as early onset of Parkinson’s, his wife’s statement goes on to read.

Receiving a diagnosis of an incurable disease such as Parkinson’s isn’t likely to help someone already dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Curing Parkinson’s Disease

While there is no known way to prevent or cure Parkinson’s, treatment for it has led to longer lives for many of those afflicted by the disease.


Shawn Thomas writes Entertainment & Lifestyle content for CBS Local.  Follow him on Twitter.



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