Robin Williams was a genius stand-up comedian, which translated into some of the most memorable roles in film history (Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, the Birdcage). But, as a Juliard graduate, he was also a talented dramatist (Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings). Mr. Williams was a philanthropist as well, co-creating the Comic Relief fundraiser, performing for the USO, and supporting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, among others.
As is the case with many great comedians, Robin Williams also battled with drugs, alcohol and depression.
Unfortunately, many people do not accept depression as a real disease. Depression is not simply being sad. Many people misuse the word and think of it as something people can just snap out of. As a personal-injury lawyer, I see this bias used against my clients all the time. When we represent a client who suffers a traumatic brain injury, or loses his/her job or independence or ability to engage in the same activities as before their injury….they can develop any one of the depressive disorders recognized and classified by the DSM-IV:
Major Depressive Disorder: This is classified by the DSM-IV when someone has at least two weeks of depressed mood or loss of interest accompanied by at least four additional symptoms of depression (for more days than not).
Dysthymic Disorder: is characterized by at least two years of depressed mood for more days than not, accompanied by additional depressive symptoms that do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode.
Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition: a prominent and persistent disturbance in mood that is judged to be a direct physiological consequence of another medical condition.