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Was Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis The Final Straw For Robin Williams?

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —  Was dealing with Parkinson’s disease the final straw for a depressed Robin Williams?

His wife Susan Schneider on Thursday said in a written statement that her 63-year-old husband was in the early stages of the disease and not ready to disclose the illness to family or friends.

“[He was] brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was was not ready to share publicly,” Schneider wrote.

Thursday evening, Parkinson’s patients reacted to the news.

KCAL9’s Juan Fernandez reported a huge crowd of people was surrounding the actor’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and even more sympathetic in the wake of his suicide.

Michael Weissman, a Beverlywood man, has had Parkinson’s for 15 years.

“Denial, depression, grieving,” said Weissman.

Doctors say depression is not uncommon in Parkinson’s patients.

“The disease itself can cause depression,” says Jeff Bronstein, “even before the motor symptoms occur.”

Actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991.

Fox tweeted Thursday that he was surprised to find Williams also had it and that he was “pretty sure his support for our foundation predated his diagnosis. A true friend. I wish him peace.”

In a video produced by the American Academy for Neurology, Fox speaks about the need for the patient to accept the diagnosis, as difficult as it might be.

“You have to work slowly toward acceptance,” he said, “which will take awhile.”

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