Robin Williams’ Health Compounded By Parkinson’s Diagnosis

Suicide Adds Spotlight To Diagnosis, Integrated Treatment

Days after Robin Williams’ death, his wife Susan Schneider revealed the actor had been diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Upon hearing the news, Williams’ friend and Parkinson’s activist Michael J. Fox took to Twitter to share his reaction.

Fox tweeted to his over 1.1 million followers Thursday evening that he was “stunned” to learn of Williams’ condition: “Stunned to learn Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn predated his diagnosis. A true friend; I wish him peace.”

Robin Williams Parkinson's disease

According to the website for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s in 1991. He went public with his condition in 1998. Seemingly related to the news but never mentioning Williams by name, the foundation addressed on its blog how depression and Parkinson’s are often related:

“Depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, separate from the emotional response that comes with a diagnosis,” per the FoxFeed Blog, in an entry posted Thursday, August 14. “As many as 50 percent of people with Parkinson’s show clinically significant symptoms of depression at some point in their disease course.”

As mentioned in Fox’s tweet, Williams was a supporter of his foundation. According to its website, the actor and comedian had participated in the annual A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to Cure Parkinson’s Gala, which raised nearly $5 million for Parkinson’s research each year.

Alongside Williams and Fox, performers at the gala included The Who, James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Tony Bennett, Bon Jovi, John Mayer, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Wanda Sykes.

Neurological disorders are rapidly rising among people of all ages around the world. Parkinson’s appears to be a member of a family of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). The family of diseases includes Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, mad cow and other diseases known to strike humans, livestock and wildlife.


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