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What Dementia Did Robin Williams Have

After Robin Williams Died By Suicide In His California Home On August 11 2014 An Autopsy Revealed That He Had Lewy Body Dementia

Report: Robin Williams had Lewy body dementia

On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams was found dead in his home in Paradise Cay, California. The actor was discovered with a belt around his neck, and investigators later found cuts on his left wrist. Tragically, it was soon confirmed that Robin Williams died by suicide at the age of 63.

Up until that point, Williams had spent nearly his whole life making people laugh. A talented comedian and Academy Award-winning actor, he was highly respected among his peers and cherished by his millions of fans.

But despite his happy-go-lucky persona, Robin Williams struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction early on in his career. And later on in his life, he would grapple with mental health issues and physical ailments.

Still, many of his family members, friends, and fans were stunned by his sudden demise and desperate for answers. How did Robin Williams die? Why did Robin Williams take his life? Tragic truths would soon emerge.

Coroners Discovered Signs Of Lewy Bodies Dementia In Robin Williams’ Brain

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Depression, paranoia, Parkinsons disease, confusion and dementia. The long list of symptoms suffered by Robin Williams is itself confusing, but all of these and more besides, can be accounted for by the disorder bearing the name, dementia with Lewy bodies , which his widow has now announced as his final diagnosis.

Few people have heard of DLB until, like Williams’ family, they are confronted by its multiple and variable combinations of symptoms which fluctuate in severity in an alarmingly unpredictable manner.

What Are The Different Types Of Dementia

Dementia comes in many flavors. Most people recognize the condition known as Alzheimer’s disease it’s the most common type of dementia, accounting for up to 70% of dementia cases. People with Alzheimer’s disease develop short-term memory issues and speech difficulty, with difficulty finding words and repetition. There may be judgment issues and difficulty with spatial perception, which can lead to getting lost. Those affected often the lack insight to understand their disease and may not recognize the significant decline in their function.

Lewy body dementia is named after the abnormal proteins that are found in the brain at autopsy. Its symptoms may be much different than those of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients often develop hallucinations — seeing people, animals, or both — especially when they get up or go to bed. They can develop Parkinsonism with rigidity and tremor, and their thought processes can be diminished, affecting attention, organized thought, and planning.

To confuse matters more, Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy Body dementias can coexist in the same patient.

There are dozens of other types of dementias, but a couple of the more common include vascular dementia, a disease with numerous small strokes affecting brain function and fronto-temporal dementia that causes dramatic personality and speech changes.

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Sorting Through The Symptoms

Some patients exhibit movement disorders that doctors first diagnose as Parkinsons disease. If those patients later develop dementia, they would then be diagnosed with Parkinsons disease dementia.

Others may begin with cognitive or memory disorders mistaken for Alzheimers disease. More specific changes in their cognitive function over time can lead to the diagnosis dementia with Lewy bodies.

Rarely will some individuals first show neuropsychiatric symptoms, which can include hallucinations, behavioral problems and difficulty with mental activities. When those appear simultaneously, that can prompt an initial diagnosis of LBD.

To specifically and accurately diagnose a person with LBD, doctors have to ask the right questions about his symptoms, Vox said.

Delusions for Alzheimers patients might occur late in the disease and be ill-formed, appearing as paranoia or mistrust such as thinking a spouse is cheating. For LBD patients, delusions happen earlier and are well-formed misidentifications, such as looking at a loved one and thinking she has been replaced by an identical impostor.

The more detailed the assessment, Galvin said, the easier it is to separate out the conditions.

Transforming Mental Cognitive And Physical Health

Did Robin Williams Have Dementia?

The symptoms may first hinder a persons ability to work, Taylor said. Then they can disrupt their ability to drive manage their affairs and health be socially active dress themselves and shower. A person might also become unable to control involuntary behaviors, Galvin said, resulting in constipation, drooling, low blood pressure or the inability to control urine or bowel movements.

A persons inability to visually perceive the spatial relationships of objects can lead to car accidents or injuries. People with LBD can experience anxiety, depression and REM sleep disorder in which people lose the muscle paralysis that normally occurs during deep stages of sleep and physically act out their dreams. Once a person is finally diagnosed, the life expectancy is about four to five years, Vox said.

Theyre losing the essence of who they are slowly over time, Taylor said. Thats a journey that is a very difficult one.

Research to improve diagnoses and treatments is underway, but there are currently no treatments for Lewy body dementia specifically. Most patients are treated with medications for Alzheimers or Parkinsons disease, since the symptoms of LBD are similar. However, treating the various symptoms of LBD with medications not fine-tuned for the condition can be a real art and quickly fill up a patients medicine cabinet, Vox said.

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How And Why Did Robin Williams Kill Himself

One of the saddest days in recent history has to be on August 11, 2014, the day Robin Williams, the comedy legend, was found dead in his home at the age of 63. The news shocked the world, with tributes pouring in from colleagues and fans alike, but how did he kill himself, and many are still asking why?

While many thought depression drove Robin to suicide, in which he died from hanging himself at home, the real reason was found to be a brain disease known as Lewy Body Dementia a condition Robin lived with unknowingly.

Robin will always hold a place in our hearts, and his memory will never be forgotten. To shed some light on what he was dealing with and why he did what he did, heres everything you need to know.

Robins Wish: An Intimate Look Into Robin Williams And His Battle With Lewy Body Dementia

Robin Williams final days are the subject matter of an emotional new documentary. Directed by Tylor Norwood, Robins Wish documents the comedians battle with undiagnosed Lewy body dementia, which ultimately led to his death by suicide in August 204 at age 63.

In August 2014 the world was shocked to find out that Robin Williams had died by suicide. For someone who brought so much humor to the world, it was a tragic, traumatic end. No one knew how much more there was to the story.

Months later the coroners report indicated that Robin had diffuse Lewy body disease the autopsy diagnosis for Lewy body dementia.

Directed by Tylor Norwood, Robins Wish is an intimate portrait of Robin in his final days, with deeply personal stories from some of those closest to him, including his wife Susan Schneider Williams, who bravely came forward to publicly reveal the findings of Robins autopsy. Among those interviewed in the film are Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy and The Crazy Ones creator David E. Kelley.

The first major film about a person with Lewy body dementia , Robins Wish tells the story of what people with this devastating disorder are really struggling with. Explaining the movies title and Williams main wish, Schneider Williams said the Oscar winner wanted to help all of us be less afraid.

The movie will be released directly to on-demand services on Sept. 1, 2020. Watch the official trailer.

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The son of Robin Williams is speaking out about his fathers psychological struggles as well as his own in the wake of the legendary comedians death.

Zak Williams, 38, sat down with writer and The Genius Life podcast host Max Lugavere for a long heart-to-heart, released Wednesday.

Their candid conversation included their mutual struggles with depression, anxiety and the pain of watching a loved one be consumed by a debilitating neurodegenerative disease: dementia with Lewy bodies. Both Lugavere and Williams watched a parent suffer through the frustrating illness the pain of which has left a lasting impact on both men.

It was a poignant conversation to debut on the day that would have been Robins 70th birthday.

What I saw was frustration, said Williams of his fathers diagnosis and misdiagnosis.

About two years before his death by suicide in 2014, doctors told Williams he had Parkinsons disease, a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, causing its signature tremors.

But an autopsy would later reveal that Robin and his medical team had treated the wrong illness. What he was going through didnt match one to one many Parkinsons patients experience, said Robins eldest child, whose mother is Valerie Velardi, the comics first wife.

Lightning-quick recall that was his signature , Williams said, referring to what his father lost to dementia.

The Link To Parkinsons Disease

Did Robin Williams have Alzheimer’s?

Most people with Parkinsons disease have Lewy bodies in their brains. Its these clusters that cause some or all of the motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease, as well as memory or cognitive problems, visual hallucinations, and problems with alertness.

We rarely know if a living patient has Lewy bodies with certainty, however. Its not until an autopsy that they can be seen, says Liana Rosenthal, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. If we see Lewy bodies in someones brain during an autopsy, thats considered a pathologic certainty of Parkinsons disease, she says.

As with Parkinsons, Lewy body dementia is associated with a depletion of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These are:

  • Dopamine: This neurotransmitter helps transmit signals that control muscle movement. When the accumulation of Lewy bodies blocks dopamines production and transmission, the result is the hallmark movement issues of Parkinsons disease.
  • Acetylcholine: This neurotransmitter does its work in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, thinking and processing. When Lewy bodies build up in these areas, they interfere with acetylcholine, causing symptoms of dementia.

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The Hidden Threats Of Lewy Body Dementia

“Robin struggled with getting the right diagnosis, says Norma Loeb, who founded the Lewy Body Dementia Resource Center after her mother got the disease she also consulted on Robin’s Wish. That parallels the experience we hear from people with LBD and their loved ones who call our helpline.”

LBD, which generally affects people over 60, is tricky to diagnose because its multiple symptoms resemble those attributed to other diseases. Susan compares LBD to whack-a-mole, because symptoms pop up and disappear, says Loeb. Without knowing why, Robin Williams had mysterious sleep disturbances, thrashing while dreaming. He also experienced a sudden onslaught of memory issues. When Robin was doing Night at the Museum III, he couldn’t remember his very few lines, says Loeb. And he had just done Broadway twice a day with hundreds and hundreds of lines and didn’t make a single mistake. He thought, What the heck is going on?'”

For Loeb, her mother’s LBD first manifested in her having trouble balancing her checkbook. Next, she developed Capgras syndrome, mistaking loved ones for impostors. The world her mother knew became suddenly foreign, says Loeb: She’d say, How did they get this apartment to look exactly like my other one? All the furniture is the same.'”

In other patients, LBD can also cause motor issues, Loeb says, and frightening hallucinations. The lamp in a room will look like a monster, she says. Caregivers make sure to put knives away.

Robin Williams’s Widow: ‘there Were So Many Misunderstandings About What Had Happened To Him’

Susan Schneider Williams watched her husband suffer with undiagnosed Lewy body dementia before he killed himself in 2014. A new film tries to educate others about the condition and put to rest assumptions about his death

After Robin Williams died in August 2014, aged 63, a lot of people had a lot of things to say about him. There was the predictable speculation about why a hugely beloved and seemingly healthy Hollywood star would end his own life, with some confidently stating that he was depressed or had succumbed to old addictions.

Others talked, with more evidence, about Williams as a comic genius a brilliant dramatic actor and both . One thing everyone agreed on was that he had an extraordinary mind. Comedians spoke about how no one thought faster on stage than Williams those who made movies with him said he never did the same take twice, always ad-libbing and getting funnier each time.

Williams knew this about himself. In Marina Zenovichs 2018 HBO documentary about Williams, Come Inside My Mind, we hear an old interview in which he is asked if he has any fears. Williams replies: I guess I fear my consciousness becoming, not just dull, but a rock. I couldnt spark. It wasnt until after he died that doctors were able to see that Williamss worst fears had come true: the autopsy suggested that he had suffered from severe Lewy body dementia , more commonly referred to in the UK as dementia with Lewy bodies.

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What Are The Differences Between Lewy Body Dementia Parkinson’s And Alzhemier’s

Despite shared symptoms, Lewy body dementia has key symptoms that differentiate itself from other similar disorders.

“People with LBD, unlike early Parkinson’s, will exhibit cognitive impairment, behavior issues and have fluctuations in alertness,” Loeb said, symptoms that are not as common in early Parkinson’s patients.

Meanwhile, LBD patients will more frequently face issues with “planning, judgment and visual perception,” as opposed to Alzheimer’s patients, who experience memory loss. They may also face issues with their autonomic nervous system, which influences blood pressure and incontinence.

Is There Any Treatment For Lewy Body Dementia

Autopsy: Robin Williams had Lewy body dementia

Like other degenerative diseases, Lewy body dementia has no known cure.

And while some medications typically used for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may help with symptoms relating to cognition or movement, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are many risks attached.

The reason for this, Loeb explained, is that individuals with LBD are extremely sensitive to medications.

“Given the wrong drugs particularly older antipsychotics can add to or create hallucinations and can contribute to a much worsened, dangerous condition,” Loeb said.

Still, Loeb notes that cholinesterase inhibitors, which are often used for people with Alzheimer’s, can help improve cognition and alertness in patients with Lewy body dementia. It is worth speaking with a neurologist to determine which prescriptions can work best to mitigate symptoms of LBD.

Contributing: Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY.

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Robin Williams Had Lewy Body Dementia But Did Not Know It When He Died

Robin Williams was diagnosed with a form of dementia in his final months, but did not know it, according to a new biography.

Mr Williams autopsy report showed he had severe Lewy body dementia doctors who reviewed the report say it was one of the worst cases they had seen.

However, in the months before he died Mr Williams was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease.

Lewy body dementia is the second-most common form of dementia after Alzheimers disease. The illness causes protein deposits in the brain that affect thinking, memory, emotions, and body movements.

The disease is notoriously hard to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, and psychiatric illnesses.

One of the key differences between the diseases can be that Lewy body dementia progresses more quickly than the others.

In his book, Robin, author Dave Itzkoff says that in the months before he died, Mr Williams struggled to remember lines, had trouble controlling his emotions, developed a slight tremor in his hand, was anxious, had trouble sleeping, and lost his sense of smell.

His symptoms first began appearing in 2013 he died in 2014.

While all these symptoms can now be attributed to Lewy body dementia, at the time they were attributed to Parkinsons disease.

Would a correct diagnosis have helped: We will never have the answer

We will never know the answer to this, she wrote.

The Dangers Of Misdiagnosis

According to Loeb, LBD is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other illnesses. Being misdiagnosed can be dangerous, she says, because people with LBD are sensitive to medications, and the wrong drugs may cause severe reactions, such as hallucinations or worse. The correct diagnosis is crucial to a better quality of life.

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A Hard Illness To Diagnose

Subtle early problems can include loss of smell, acting out dreams, dizziness when standing up, constipation and anxiety. In a 2016 article about Robin Williams experience titled The Terrorist Inside My Husbands Brain, his widow Susan Schneider Williams highlighted gastrointestinal issues and anxiety as early unexplained changes.

Early memory and thinking problems in Lewy body dementia can also be subtle. They include new trouble concentrating, difficulty multitasking or challenges with visual skills. Fluctuations are characteristic of Lewy body dementia. This means that sometimes, people living with the illness have minimal thinking problems. At other times, they can be very confused. These ups and downs can make it hard to figure out what is wrong.

Hallucinations, paranoia and delusions are also symptoms. These are particularly troubling for the people experiencing them and for families. Hallucinations are when people experience something thats not really there, often seeing people or animals that arent actually present. Delusions are when a person believes something false but cannot be convinced of the truth.

Examples include incorrectly thinking that there is a stranger in the house, or that a spouse is having an affair. Robins Wish details how Robin Williams was worried that something had happened to his friend in the middle of the night, and it was hard to convince him otherwise.


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