published Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Robin Williams' wife: He had Parkinson's disease

  • photo
    In this July 29, 2013 file photo, actor Robin Williams participates in the "The Crazy Ones" panel at the 2013 CBS Summer TCA Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Nielsen company said Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, that Williams new CBS comedy, The Crazy Ones, debuted before 15.6 million people on Thursday night. It competed directly at 9 p.m. Eastern with The Michael J. Fox on NBC, which was seen by 7.2 million people.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

LOS ANGELES — Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease and was sober at the time of his apparent suicide, his wife said today.

In a statement, Susan Schneider said that Williams, 63, was struggling with depression, anxiety and the Parkinson's diagnosis when he was found dead earlier this week. Authorities said the actor-comedian's death was suicide.

Schneider did not offer details on when Williams had been diagnosed or his symptoms.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a small tremor in one hand. The disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

Actor Michael J. Fox, who has long had the disease, is known for his efforts to fund research into it.

"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," Schneider said.

Williams had publicly acknowledged periodic struggles with substance abuse. Recently, depression prompted him to enter rehab.

Schneider said that those who loved Williams are taking solace in the outpouring of affection and admiration for him.

"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," she said in her statement.

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