In His Last Year, Robin Williams Faced More Than Depression

Robin Williams battled Lewy body dementia before his death, according to widow Susan Williams


When Robin Williams took his own life in August of 2014, the public assumed the comedian's long battle with depression played a part. But Williams' wife recently spoke out against that theory.

“It was not depression that killed Robin,” Williams' wife Susan told People Magazine. “Depression was one of let’s call it 50 symptoms, and it was a small one.”

Robin Williams had been battling Lewy body dementia in the year leading up to his death, according to Susan Williams. The disease — second only to Alzheimer's disease as the most common form of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic — causes mental decline, delusions, hallucinations and problems with movement. It shares symptoms with other neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, which is why it is often misdiagnosed.

Robin and Susan Williams were both looking for answers up until the actor's death. Doctors couldn't figure out what was going wrong, and Robin's anxiety spiked. They didn't find out until after his death.

"I know now the doctors, the whole team was doing exactly the right things," Susan told People. "It's just that this disease was faster than us and bigger than us. We would have gotten there eventually."

Susan said she hopes her husband's death will help "shed some light" on this form of dementia. There is no known cure for Lewy body dementia. Some prescription drugs can help with symptoms.

More than 1 million patients in the US have Lewy body dementia, according to the National Institute on Aging.