Robin Williams was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease as well as depression when he took his own life, according to his widow, Susan Schneider.
The 63-year-old was found hanged at his home in California on Monday.
His widow said the comedian “was not yet ready to share publicly” his struggles with the incurable and debilitating illness.
Parkinson’s experts have noted how the nervous system disorder that causes tremors and slowness of movement also affects people emotionally.
“The neurochemicals that are impacted by Parkinson’s disease and the pathways that control motor functions are also integrally involved in the control of mood,” said Dr. Irene Richard, a neurology professor at the University of Rochester in New York.
More than half of those who suffer from Parkinson’s also experience clinical depression, according to the National Parkinson Foundation, which advises all Parkinson’s patients to be screened for depression.
“It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid,” Schneider said in the statement.
Actor Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali and singer Linda Ronstadt have all be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Ronstadt said last year that the disease had robbed her of her singing voice.