“It was not depression that killed Robin,” Susan Williams told People in her first interview since his death. “Depression was one of let’s call it 50 symptoms and it was a small one.” The autopsy report revealed that Robin Williams was suffering from Diffuse Lewy Body Dementia, a neurodegenerative disease — the second most common after Alzheimer’s — that is frequently misdiagnosed for its “whack-a-mole” symptoms. Up until the months leading up to his death, his symptoms worsened significantly, and Williams was experiencing crippling anxiety attacks and muscle rigidity. It can cause hallucinations and impair memory and motor functions.
Initially, Williams’s publicist stated that the actor had been suffering from depression. Susan had released a brief statement, but had refused interviews in an effort to understand what happened. “I know now the doctors, the whole team was doing exactly the right things. It’s just that this disease was faster than us and bigger than us. We would have gotten there eventually,” she said. “I’ve spent this last year trying to find out what killed Robin. To understand what we were fighting, what we were in the trenches fighting and one of the doctors said, ‘Robin was very aware that he was losing his mind and there was nothing he could do about it.’” Now she says that she hopes to bring more awareness around the disease and its treatment.