Without releasing an exact cause of death, her daughters, Wynonna and Ashley, released a statement saying, "We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness."
Naomi had been open about her struggle with mental illness over the years, stopping by TODAY in December 2017 to detail her experience beginning "out of nowhere" in 2011 with severe depression and suicide ideation.
“I didn’t get off my couch for two years,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “I was so depressed that I couldn’t move. I wouldn't even brush my teeth. I wouldn't get out of my pjs. My husband (Larry Strickland) and my girlfriends and Ashley would come over and I would just go upstairs and lock the door to my bedroom ... You become immobilized.”
Judd emphasized it wasn’t about being happy or sad, it was a chemical imbalance. “We don’t make enough of the good neurochemicals in the brain,” she said at the time. “It’s a disease. It has nothing to do with our character.”
Suicide was an option she considered, even searching for a bridge nearby to possibly use. “That’s how bad it can get,” she said. “It’s hard to describe. You go down in this deep, dark hole of depression and you don’t think that there’s another minute.’”
In an essay for NBC News, she wrote, “I never dealt with all the stuff that happened to me, so it came out sideways, as depression and anxiety. Depression is partly genetic, and I have it on both sides of my family."
"So I know now that there are almost 44 million people in America that experience mental illness in a given year," she added.
"It’s staggering how many people that is — 44 million. If you’ve got a pulse, then you’re fighting some battle, whether it’s a diagnosis of depression, like 16 million people, or one of anxiety, like 42 million people, or something else. And there’s power in numbers: it means that there are other people. You’re not alone."
To help others struggling, in 2017 Judd detailed her harrowing experiences in a book, “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope,” which she called a “survivor’s manual about how to survive depression and anxiety.”
She added, "The book is about hope."