By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New revelations about why the actor and comedian Robin Williams killed himself. His widow says he had a devastating form of dementia, named after a doctor who worked in the Philadelphia area.

She says they were living a nightmare and that he knew he was losing his mind. Robin Williams’ widow says there was an endless parade of symptoms, an autopsy revealed he had Lewy body dementia.

It’s a progressive neurological disorder that causes a variety of symptoms. “Their thinking process gets derailed, they have hallucinations, delusions and some memory problems.” says Dr. Ausim Azizi, the head of Neurology at Temple Health. Then he says the mental problems associated with Lewy bodies are followed by movement difficulties like stiffness and being hunched, similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Is sounds horrific, Dr. Azizi says it is, “Unfortunately more horrific because we don’t have any major treatments for it.”

The brain abnormality was discovered by Dr. Frederick Lewy who did research with Dr. Alzheimer, Lewy eventually moved to Philadelphia, where his research on Lewy bodies continued. Dr. Azizi says, “It’s not as rare as we think, it’s the third most common cause of dementia.”

 

But Lewy bodies can be difficult to diagnose. Williams’ wife says she wants to raise awareness about it and let everyone know why the 63-year-old actor killed himself in August of 2014.  She says it was his way of saying no to the disease that was robbing his mind and body.

Severe sensitivity is another symptom of Lewy body dementia, which is why many may have thought Robin Williams was depressed.
It’s not know what causes Lewy body dementia.

Stephanie Stahl