Robin Williams Dead at 63

Depression and addiction were lifelong struggles for Robin Williams

(RxWiki News) Oscar-winning actor and comic Robin Williams died at his home in Northern California August 11.

According to law enforcement, Williams appears to have taken his own life. He was 63 years old.

The beloved comic was fairly open about his long battle with depression and addiction. In the 1970s, during his time playing Mork on the sitcom Mork & Mindy, Williams heavily abused alcohol and cocaine. But in 1983, before the birth of his first son, he quit both and remained sober for 20 years.

"Seek therapy if you're battling depression or addiction."

Research has shown that substance abuse is common among people living with depression, and the relationship between depression and substance abuse works both ways. For example, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so using alcohol can trigger depression symptoms like lethargy, sadness and hopelessness. However, people with depression also may turn to alcohol or drugs because they think it will make them feel better or numb their painful emotions — which is how Williams broke his 20-year sobriety.

In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Williams recounted how he felt "alone and afraid" on location in Alaska in 2003. He thought drinking might lift his spirits, but, as he put it, "It was the worst thing in the world."

The Mayo Clinic recommends that people battling addiction should see a therapist, join a support group and/or seek treatment for other mental health disorders. Individuals with depression should also seek therapy and social support and try other coping techniques to relax and manage stress, such as exercise or meditation.

The combination of depression and addiction can be tough to treat, as each condition can worsen the symptoms of the other. People living with both disorders may need a treatment program geared specifically toward their dual diagnosis.

According to CNN, Williams went to rehab at least twice after his 2003 relapse.

Williams married graphic designer Susan Schneider in 2011.

In a statement to media about Williams' death, Schneider said, "This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken."

The Marin County coroner's office has not yet gathered all of the details surrounding Williams' death.

Review Date: 
August 12, 2014