Pop Culture

Robin Williams was struggling with early Parkinson's, wife says

Aug. 14, 2014 at 7:34 PM ET

Wife: Robin Williams Had Parkinson’s, Was Sober When He Died

Robin Williams was sober but struggling with early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death, his wife said Thursday.

“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid,” his wife Susan Schneider said in a statement.

“Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.

“Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.

“It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid."

Williams had been known to struggle with depression and addiction. After his suicide on Monday at age 63, Parkinson's advocate Michael J. Fox tweeted his respects to the comic legend, calling him "famously kind, ferociously funny, a genius and a gentle soul."

Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of brain cells that produce a message carrying-chemical, or neurotransmitter, that is important for movement. Symptoms can start with a barely noticeable trembling but worsen to difficulty walking and talking, depression and other disability. There’s no cure and the drugs used to treat the condition usually stop helping over time.

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