Michael J. Fox Foundation Comments on Robin Williams’ Parkinson’s

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Robin Williams
Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

August 15, 2014; Fox News

When this author worked in the battered women’s movement, one of the things we had to do was to take the moment of a battered women’s death to remind the public about the fact that this was a systematically supported form of violence against women.

I was reminded of this when the Michael J. Fox Foundation issued a short statement regarding the revelation that Robin Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease before his recent suicide, advising people that depression is a symptom of the disease itself.

“Depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, separate from the emotional response that comes with a diagnosis. As many as 50 percent of people with Parkinson’s show clinically significant symptoms of depression at some point in their disease course.

“Depression in Parkinson’s may be due to the underlying changes in brain chemistry and circuitry from the disease itself. Evidence for this includes the fact that depression can predate a Parkinson’s diagnosis by a decade or more. More information is available on our Depression and Anxiety page.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation continues to pursue a single, urgent goal: the eradication of Parkinson’s disease. Explore our website for more information, connections to the Parkinson’s community, and resources for living with Parkinson’s disease.”

Williams had involved himself in all manner of charity during his lifetime, from acting as a celebrity spokesperson to quiet gifts to the local food bank and, evidently, the Michael J. Fox Foundation. After hearing the news, Fox himself tweeted, “Stunned to learn Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn predated his diagnosis. A true friend; I wish him peace.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Bernell K. Grier

    The announcement of Robin Williams’ having Parkinson disease has confirmed for me how devastating a disease this is for so many. I am fortunate to be the CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Inc., (NHSNYC) an organization that thrived under the leadership of a woman named Dr. Francine “Fran” Justa. Many times I wish I could speak to Fran and discuss the history of NHSNYC. Unfortunately, Fran has Parkinson’s disease and also suffers from dementia as well as depression. Her husband wrote the book “Fran, a memoir”, in which the last third of the book details how he now cares for Fran and the impact this disease has on families. It is so important to have the research continued to find the cause and the cure for this debilitating illness.