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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

After Robin Williams’ Death, A Look At Depression

Robin Williams is pictured on July 29, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Robin Williams is pictured on July 29, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Of the many expressions of grief and loss we’re hearing after the suicide death of Robin Williams, we’re also hearing a question: how could someone with everything — perhaps one of the most beloved Americans and one of the most loved comics on the planet — have depression?

There are too many who know the answer, but for those who don’t, Here & Now’s Robin Young brings in Dr. Harsh Trivedi, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer for Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, to discuss depression, bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), substance abuse and suicide.

“You owe it to yourself — and you’re worth it — to try and get the help that you need,” Trivedi said.

Interview Highlights: Harsh Trivedi

On bipolar disorder

“Manic depression is another term for bipolar disorder. What happens there, is that you have people who may sometimes experience depression, sometimes may experience euphoria or there might actually be a mix of the two, where they could be experiencing both at the same time.”

On the relationship between mania and creativity

“What we find is, if somebody is just depressed, its a miserable feeling to feel depressed day after day after day. That actually causes people to want to get help and to feel better. The problem is that when someone’s manic, it’s the happiest they’ve ever felt in their lives and part of the difficulty when you help people to get treatment for their bipolar disorder or their manic depression, what ends up happening is you’re basically blunting that really high feeling. A lot of the people that are bipolar, particularly those that are creative, they say, ‘I can’t be myself, I can’t write my music, I can’t be a comedian, I can’t do my acting if I’m not in a somewhat high euphoric state.’ There’s this perception that it also takes away from their creativity.”

On treatment for depression and bipolar disorder

“I think the most important thing to keep in mind here is, there is help available. Depression and manic depression, as well as addiction, those are all diseases that are just as real as heart disease and cancer. Treatment can be effective and you owe it to yourself — and you’re worth it — to try and get the help that you need.”

Mental Health Resources


  • Harsh Trivedi, psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health.

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  • Nooney

    I am one of the lucky ones. I was given “antidepressants” when I was grieving my failed marriage. The meds CAUSED progressively suicidal depression, and the more depressed I became the high the dose my psychiatrist prescribed, until it got so bad I stepped out of a speeding car on the freeway. No once did my psychiatrist question the medications. Instead he told me, and I can still hear his voice to this day, “You are psychologically resistant to healing.” I ended up jobless and homeless, which meant I could no longer afford the medications, so I was forced to go off the meds. That’s when the depression went away! I have recovered financially from that experience–unable to get a living wage job now because of my history of “mental Illness.” I was never deeply depressed before the meds, and have not been depressed since. I will never forgive that psychiatrist for how he treated me!!!

    • Robin Y

      I am not a Dr! We’ll get one here to address this.. meantime.. you possibly make a point about not just mis-diagnosis, but also paradoxical reactions to medication (the opposite of the intended effect!) also a cautionary tale. .
      Thank you!

    • SusanCS

      yes, Nooney, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease! i remember going off of Paxil® cold turkey, because i was broke, depressed, and couldn’t fork over the money anymore for it. awful withdrawals, but best thing i could have done at the time. but – do forgive, though, for your own healing’s sake. tell your story, keep others aware of the dangers of these psychotropic drugs. but cut ties to that past otherwise by forgiving. you’ll thrive for having done so.

    • ocdhickson

      As an employer I wouldn’t even consider asking a potential employee about their mental illness history. I really doubt the legality of asking such questions — unless the position required high level security clearance or something like that.
      We have a 20 year employee who has had bouts of clinical depression and I wouldn’t be afraid to hire another tomorrow.

      • mshuler

        I don’t know about employers, but try getting health insurance (much less life insurance) if you take anti-dep meds. And no, even though it’s a reexisting condition, they can deny you. I’m sure most ANY large company with an HR dept would check the mental health records of a potential hire.

        • SOME PEOPLE…

          People should revolt against that then. Anytime someone talks about gene sequencing of humans or something like that which would lead to discovering any illness… or pretty much anything that does not benefit to the survival of the fittest… People bring up future insurance plans not accepting you.

          Why tolerate that? if it’s not right, why allow it? Picture yourself in a room without your cellphone or a car near by. Then picture in that room, other people. The wealthy person in that room makes the decisions and maybe has a gun. Would you be okay with that?
          People in power cannot help but take advantage of people without it. They get money and power, and grow accustomed to that feeling and don’t want to let it go. Money. Same thing with depression, people who are depressed will grab onto drugs and such.

          I just hope one day soon there will be a way to PREVENT these annoying things that occur due to coorporate america instead of having to protest and “revolt” as an response after it occurs. : ( Not to pin this on you at all, it’s just irritating.

        • ocdhickson

          I spent several years as a manager for three fortune 500 companies before and after HIPAA and I can tell you for certain none of them checked mental health records.

          You are correct about the insurance though.

    • CNN = Certainly Not News

      I have a friend, who was in a similar position. He had these periods of depression after his divorce.

      Eventually all he did was find another woman. He also started looking for work, that did not involve his own self. For example, he joined a charity that helps young girls in Afghanistan go to school.

      The message I got from his experience, is that the main way to fight depression, is to involve oneself in an activity, greater than your own problems.

      • Debbie

        I replied to you

        • CNN = Certainly Not News

          My response was specific to Nooney’s comment. It was not specific to Robin.

          Also, I mentioned what happened to my friend, and how he recovered — here I was an outside observer.

          I was merely mentioning an event. The general public are free to decide, what they take out of it.

      • Sally

        Not when you have clinical depression. It’s biochemical, and has roots in distorted thinking.

        • CNN = Certainly Not News

          Sally, you must be right.

          I just shared a third party experience, and an opinion based on that.

          It was an individual case, and in no way reflects any kind of solution.

          People are free to take away, inspiration, from my friend’s personal experience.

    • boomerangman

      That’s what I’m waiting for with Robin’s death—if he was on psych drugs, since they’ve said already he was ‘being treated for depression’. That means virtually one thing—psych drugs. Most SSRI’s list suicidal ideation on their warning ‘black box’ labels. It doesn’t mean it happens with everyone of course but Nooney’s comment is an example. If someone is extremely down mentally it still doesn’t mean it’s a psychiatry-created construct called ‘Depression disorder’, especially since no objective test in existence can prove such a thing.. And SSRI’s can cause people to be even MORE down, or violent even, or cause mania, or psychosis, or hallucinations…as some of the various listed side-effects. So we shall see.

      • Barbara Daniels

        boom, antidepressants can have these effects at the very beginning of treatment, but they subside and are not a factor in long-term therapy.
        Robin had a treatment-resistant disorder which means he had fluctuating bouts of mood swings throughout his life which medication couldn’t completely control. His episodes of alcohol and drug abuse where forms of self-medicating ~ as was his comedy.

        • Teresa Silverlight

          not true anti depressants can accumulate and create a toxic reaction in one’s body, slowly; secondly, if there are a combination of medications, the combinations can have a devastating impact, and can be de-stabilizing; third, serotonin toxicity, the “mild and moderate” forms are the most underdiagnosed ailments.

      • Sally

        SSRIs are one class of antidepressants.

        Robin Willilams had bipolar disorder, and would have been prescribed mood stabilizers. Some also take antidepressants. Mood stabilizers are not SSRIs, and not all antidepressants are SSRIs.

        Given that you are not a psychiatrist, you should not be giving medical advice to bipolar or depressed patients.

      • Talkingtree

        I don’t know if we’re going to get the blow by blow accounting of Robin’s meds, full medical history and what his toxicology report means in terms of us drawing usable conclusions for other people’s individual cases. Another aspect of his medical history is that he had open heart surgery–the effect of being on a heart lung machine and all heart surgery entails–is known and been documented to cause real trauma to the brain, the results of which can be severe depression and lasting cognitive changes. If you research that–many have seen loved ones with no prior history of clinical depression have serious changes and even become suicidal after open heart surgery. No doubt with heart disease, he was probably on many other meds besides any psychiatric ones. Add that to his long history of battling depression, as well as his wife’s report that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s—it would be difficult to absolutely pinpoint what put him in a state of mind to take his life. We can speculate from our chairs, but we may never have an “aha” answer.

      • Sue

        I am also waiting to see what meds Robin was on for depression. 8 years ago my husband was going through a difficult time, mostly related to work, he was a NYS correction officer in a maxim security prison where he worked in the Special Housing Unit (also known as “The box”)…he knew he needed help so he saw his primary care provider who prescribed Lexapro (for depression) and Ambein (for sleep)…My husband kept saying he felt worse, was unable to sleep, and there was a definite change in him. He went back to his doctor several times and the doctor would increase his dosage. My husband became someone else, he was a different person. I no longer knew this person that I had spent 30 years with. I so vividly remember that last hung he gave me not realizing it was goodbye at the time…The next day he took his life in our home by using a 16g shot gun. I came home that day after picking up my 5 year old daughter from school and we found him. I also have 2 older sons, at the time one was in high school and the other away at college. Looking back I can see the problem so clearly, I should have done something but it didn’t occur to me it was the medication. Since then I have don’t much research on anti-depressants and Ambein (also not a good drug) and even tried to sue the drug company but no lawyer would touch the case by saying “The drug companies are too big with the best lawyers, we would never win”….So I’m raising my 13 year old daughter who has ptsd and social anxiety r/t to that horrible day on my own. My oldest son seems to be ok but my other son is not…He decided to follow in his fathers foot steps and joined the USMC after high school and did 2 tours in Afghanistan. I worry about my children constantly. I found through grief counseling that my children are at a very high risk (like 76%) for suicide themselves because of their exposure to it. And all psychologist are not the same, there are some really good ones and some pretty terrible ones….I could go on but I’ll stop here.
        I also recently learned that the country artist Gary Allen’s wife committed suicide while on antidepressants and he is very involved in suicide prevention…I wonder what medication she was taking.

    • Judith Scobee

      I wonder if Rx MEDS made Robin worse enough to end it all? He seems to have lost weight & became detached, as some who saw/knew him noticed, lately, in news articles I have read. If this is the case, his family must sue big time the drug manufacturers + doctors that recommended it for him!!! = Judy=

    • Sophie

      This is the truth. The drug companies are lyings and duping everyone. Their medications never make the illnesses better.
      Doctors are taught that the drugs are good. No one tells them the truth, just like no one tells the public the truth.

      I am so happy that you managed to get out of your mess.

    • Tania L. Moore

      How about suing the idiot who misdiagnosed you?

  • Nooney

    Correction to previous post: the dose was increased, and I have NOT recovered financially

  • Linda

    As a manic-depressive, although I do take my meds everyday, I confess I do miss that euphoric “I am awesome” high of the mania. How validating to hear a psychiatrist verify that I’m not crazy. (well I AM but still!)

  • SusanCS

    the discussion kept pointing to the brain as to where these mental illnesses happen, but aren’t we learning about the belly brain and those millions of microbes in our gut that make the bulk of our neurotransmitters? and all of those neuro-pathways in the large intenstine where stuff goes well or doesn’t, depending on diet and environment. I see manic depression as much more of an energy disorder after being cured of the disease after 3 years of going through bat-shit crazy manic episodes and more large deep depressions even with being on lithium, Tegretal®, Depakote® you-name-it toxic slurry. (all that being triggered a bit earlier with prozac® being prescribed to me when my grandmother died and i was depressed in my young 20s. i went through some very weird and extreme neural side effects and dropped the drug quickly…but the pathways were grooved…) LUCKY me, during a bout of rapid cycling my best friend suggested a whooey doctor who did acupunture and such. The doctor used a homeopathic remedy called veratrum album which is a plant that can cause mania if a normal person eats it. In two days, i recognized myself in the mirror as fully THERE and back, and haven’t had a mania since, and have used only energy and alternative medicine (acupuncture, homeopathy, SCIO, herbs) to settle out the depressions, which took a few years. I am fully functioning now with only few to no bouts of slight depression. It is not an incurable disease, as the western doctors will tell you. you don’t have to be on meds your entire life. You do have to give up the wish for the highest highs, like with all good living, the middle road is the way.

  • Concerned

    I have fought with depression, probably longer than I knew there was a diagnosis for it, and spend years self medicating with alcohol. When I finally got prescribed anti-depressants it finally felt better. Since then I weathered a divorce, with an increase in dosage, and finally got myself weaned off them. I got off them as I was getting to the point of not caring about anything….whether I had a job, paid my bills….by the time I got off them, I had lost my apartment and most of my possessions, but learned coping skills to deal with depression rather than continuing to drug myself. I’ve given up drinking, and I take it a day at a time and still use a zanex now and again as more of a cane than a crutch. This disease is something you don’t ever really get over, you just get better at dealing with it. I have good days and bad days. But when I heard this segment, I was a little insulted. I realize it’s more due to being oversensitive about it, but I cannot fathom why our society, while being so rife with mental disabilities (of varying severity), is still so clueless about them. People with depression are the sad suicide victims on CSI or some other crime drama, people with schizophrenics are the ‘perp’ in some contrived crime. Until we stop seeing mental issues as plot devices and start addressing the issue these kinds of things will continue to happen.

  • S David H de Lorge

    This comment works a little better for me than the one I struggled toward and mistakenly posted in the “Remembering” story. I posted this at “On Point.” I would cite Terry Gross’s interview, replayed on today’s Fresh Air. I’m going out of my way with reposting this here because I hope to bring a meaningful journalistic critique, not to distract from attention to Robin’s life and our loss.

    Psychologist, not psychiatrist, in the Good Will Oscar role. It matters because the therapist was also a teacher of young college students, whose own life included a choice to limit rather than expand his options, embodied in the old animosity/competition with the award missing math professor.

    And — I’m sorry, since his death really is a big deal to me too, and a big loss — must the discussion limit itself to repetitive declarations of his greatness punctuated by references to his “struggles?” It becomes cliché.

    He was not classic bipolar, but the discussion kept struggling with clinical capture, and shying away from the despair in there. The real chance came with the observation that tears were seen in Bob Saget’s eyes, in Dane Cook’s eyes, but never in Robin’s. Robin’s love went outwards. Somehow, perhaps, it never could go all the way inwards.

    Something like that. I don’t know, not being a mind reader, but I have been trying all day to fathom his state of mind. We can do better than resorting to barely understood diagnostic labels, and skipping over the described experience of the person as he existed. He wanted never to burden others pointlessly with his own despair. So much for a prescription of “reaching out.” Maybe he managed his own despair as well as he could as long as he could, but had a fatigued temporary moment and grabbed the permanent solution.

  • Para

    I very much appreciated the interview with Dr. Harsh Travidi. I particularly appreciated that he stressed that depression is no less of an illness than heart disease and that it results from damage or mistakes in the brain processes. Unfortunately, most people in society do not treat depression as a disease, but instead as a problem. Someone with heart disease, a broken arm, or carpal tunnel may be able ask for accommodations in order to do their job. Someone with depression needs to pretend that they do not have and hope that the meds work and the triggers are not pushed so that you say something or do something that would demonstrate that you have depression. I also appreciated the comment that people with depression need to be able to “know that they are loved.” Unfortunately again, many friends and family members do not understand that depression is a disease or disability and not just “something you need to get over” or “an excuse for not acting the right way.” In this case, reaching out is not easy. With most family members, I again have to pretend that I do not have depression because any mention or discussion will bring condemnation rather than support. My final issue is that having depression while living in a small town or remote from an urban center is particularly difficult. As can be seen from examining the NAMI web page, support groups only exist in large urban centers. While emotional support groups may exist in smaller cities, these support groups are often associated with drug or alcohol addiction or affiliated with religious (particularly Christian) organizations. If someone, like myself, does not fit into any of those categories, support does not come easy. Bottom line, until society recognizes that depression is a disease not a choice, people are going to continue sink further into depression, and unfortunately may resort to suicide, because their disease is stigmatized and not treated with the sensitivity and compassion that it deserves.

    • Talkingtree

      Very well articulated and beautifully stated!

  • Dr.J

    PRESCRIPTION drugs are deadly.They are money makers ,but drive people to suicide.They need to be banned now!!!

    • Virginia Lee

      Dr.J, A dear friend’s beloved daughter died precisely from having the same reaction as yours–she didn’t treat her acute appendicitis with the necessary prescription drugs and antibiotics, and died unnecessarily after a long and painful period of being extremely ill. My grandfather, as well, had died of appendicitis–but it was before any antibiotics at all were yet available for treating the problem. So, I am sorry to say that I must respond to your comment, one which ordinarily I would leave unnoticed, as all the response it deserves. But, in that its borderline-wacko zealousness is not merely unhelpful, it bears saying that it is entirely the opposite case: Prescription drugs are not mere money-makers that cause suicides, for they have helped innumerable people to continue living–and, as well, to do so with both enjoyment and contentedness. You might just as well say that, because some very few people have specific allergic reactions to antibiotics–as prescription drugs (which have saved billions of people, and repeatedly for many of them, too)–this means that all antibiotics are deadly for all people, which everyone here must realize is an untrue statement. And antibiotics are among the many prescription drugs you wipe off the table with that one, broad, mindless sweep of your arm–the very prescription drugs that would’ve saved millions of Native American tribes, alone, not merely from their own, personal sufferings and deaths, but would’ve saved entire tribes becoming extinct from diseases we so easily treat today. The diabetes that is managed with insulin, or the heart disease, or ulcers–all those folks’ lives have been made to continue, as well as to become enjoyable and fruitful. Prescription drugs treat the diabetes, the asthma, the venereal diseases, the bronchial infections, the gangrene, the meningitis, the miscarriages, the infertility–and, this very moment, as we’re hearing of repeatedly, alarmingly, the ebola (albeit, with lesser results). Yes, investors are asked to put up funds in order for pharmcologists to arrive at the best drug for the most affordable price–and, sure, a reasonable return on the investors’ money, which they risked losing if the research did not produce effective results. So no, they are not produced only as money-makers for investors–if not for those investors, there would never be adequate funds to conduct any pharmacology research at all. And in that case, millions more would continue to needlessly suffer and die. Are there cases where the patient was given a drug to which they had a violent reaction? Of course there are–just as someone can have such a reaction to drinking milk to which they’re unknowingly allergic, or to nuts. Nothing works exactly the same for everyone, because each person has his own set of genes and biochemistry. But in the many drug trials, FOR THE GREATEST PROPORTION of people, these drugs have done what they needed (and were expected) to do.

  • Cindy D

    Some good will come of his death…. Some true awareness about depression and it’s debilitating impact. I have suffered from severe depression for over 25 years. I have periods where I’m stable and can perform quite well at life and work and I have periods where I can barely get myself out of bed. I hid my mental illness from employers and downplay it to family and friends but occasional have had trouble performing at work and life. After some major issues in mine and my families life I had a bad spell.. I told my employer everything after having trouble at work. I missed some time at work but not over the days I had earned. This was a job at a local government I had had for six years and had been steadily promoted at. They showed no understanding and gave me no options. I was told FMLA wasn’t an option and to suck it up. I finally quit under pressure of being fired and knowing the new management would never give me back their respect again. This is only one example of the trouble depression has caused in my life I could go on and on.
    As far as the alcohol it’s not a second contributing factor, it’s self medicine for depression or perhaps I should say an outcome of the disease. It’s a quick band aid that works at first and then begins to slowly make things worse. It also affects the constant argument a lot of us suffering from depression have with ourselves.. Is it even worth living? Alcohol can make your judgment cloudy and sometimes you lose the argument when you mix alcohol with depression. I’ve personal experience with this as well.
    I can say without a doubt that the anti depressants have saved my life. So while some have an adverse reaction to the meds some people respond positively. They don’t cure it for me but they help manage it. I get worn down sometimes of fighting it constantly but I do hope maybe this sad tragic ending to a great man’s life will bring some public awareness to the illness and help people like me just come out of the closet even.

    • Deb

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am another person who an SSRIs has improved my life greatly. I don’t like the vilification anti-depressants receive. Many people speaking about them have no experience with them and just think anything Big Pharma is evil.

  • rick m

    I have taken citalopram for many years. I get them from the VA That’s all they give you is pills I suffer from PTSD. The VA never really gets to the root of the problem. I need ti get off the shit but so fearfull of the withdrawal . I think it would be worse than getting off Pain pills

    • Barbara Daniels

      rick, I’m surprised that medication is the only treatment you’re receiving. The V.A. has very strong programs in place for mental health issues and substance abuse either through their facilities or through local outreach agencies.


  • Debbie

    CNN.. That was a ridiculous stupid statement. As if Robbin Williams and millions of others are not involved in activities greater than ones problems? You have no understanding whatsoever as to what it means to be depressed, Yeah maybe if we play bingo the bad thoughts will just go away.

    • Talkingtree

      I agree, considering what has come out about Robin Williams’ involvement in charitable causes–the plight of the homeless, St. Jude’s, animal welfare, our military troops, visiting the wounded, cheering up the sick, to name a few, to generosity on a personal level with his time and money given to strangers and friends alike . . . it’s amazing what a deeply caring and kindly person everyone from friends to strangers who merely met him once thought he was . ..the way he apparently treated everyone he met with respect and consideration . . . a very selfless man indeed. . … In light of his energy and passion put into caring and giving, if that alone could offset his illness, his medical condition, Robin Williams should have been about the most mentally healthy man alive. Yes, those things are helpful to anybody’s sense of worth and well-being who is in a normal state of mind and feeling down . … but clearly not a reliable treatment for an illness that is a serious medical condition.

  • Anne Dunlap

    A person with bipolar disorder or depression is accorded the same status under the Americans with Disabilities Act as any other person with a health impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. In short, there is no distinction between physical and mental health issues. And there shouldn’t be. More and more, society is waking up to the reality that these illnesses are based in a person’s biochemistry and that, in some situations, a person’s brain is actually structurally different from a non sufferer. These illnesses are every bit as real as diabetes or MS or heart disease.

    The law requires employers to treat employees with mental health issues somewhat differently than solely physical health issues. Given the hesitation to discuss these issues and the difficulty a person with mental health problems may face in expressing him or herself, an employer who has reason to suspect mental health issue (e.g., major change in behavior or performance for no clear reason, difficulty getting along with others at a level beyond usual, the person’s references to struggles and the need for regular med appts and/or medications, and more can trigger an employer’s obligation to inquire – delicately – and in complete confidence (other than getting HR involved. Actually, HR is best involved in these situations.

    There’s no bright line for knowing when to intervene or how to do it. It’s best that the employer has already spoken openly about supporting workers. But in general, this conversation is not about asking the person if they gave mental problems. Plllleeeaasse! The best approach is to describe the person’s behavioral changes and/or statements about needing time for med appts or reference to meds and explaining you are concerned and whether there is anything that it might be helpful for the employer to know about what is causing the changes. A reference to your EAP (employee assistance program) is helpful as these programs are generally geared to helping with an employee’s adjustment or struggles with any work or personal

  • Guest

    Robin Williams had bipolar disorder – NOT DEPRESSION.

    This repeated inaccuracy and your gross stereotyping of bipolar people is perpetuating the kind of isolation and despair that can lead to suicide.

    Please be more considerate and do some research instead of spouting nonsense to the general public.

  • jim

    Its more of a feeling of hopelessness and fear rather than a feeling of sadness.


    People just dont know nothing about taking anti anxiety or depression medicine. The first weeks of taking that kind of medication is like being tormented spiritually. What happened to Robin was that he did not have Jesus Christ to help him through that torment.

  • Ellen

    Ive been searching and havent found anything but .. when youre taking medication for bipolar/depression isnt drinking alcohol extremely dangerous. Im wondering if the reaction is what is responsible for Robin Williams suicide?

  • Somebirdy

    I was listening when this segment was played and I have to say I was severely disappointed. This doctor failed to acknowledge that there are 2 types of bipolar disorder. In fact he only perpetuated the stigma that most have of “typical” bipolar disorder.

    Bipolar, as with many other mental illnesses, is not the same in every case. However, the DSMV has split bipolar into 4 categories with the first 2 being presented most often.

    Bipolar Type 1: defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks.

    Bipolar Type 2: defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.

    Bipolar-2 is often misdiagnosed as depression because many are unaware that it even exists. They only know the manifestation of “typical” bipolar aka Bipolar Type 1.

    Its very frustrating for those of us who suffer from Bipolar-2 because when we have to discuss our mental illness with those who aren’t aware of the different types, people jump to conclusions about our illness. They “know” what bipolar is and use media examples to define it.

  • Naia McCoy

    Labeling depression and giving medications is NOT the answer. Not everyone’s body reacts to these chemical agents in the same way. They over medicate giving everyone the same dose regardless of their weight. Psychiatrists do NOT care as long as they rake in the big $$$ from Big Pharma. It is a scandalous crime that society has forced down American people’s throats (literally)! I could go on forever. Do your research and know drug interactions, know side effects, know what to look for and HOW TO SAFELY STOP THESE DANGEROUS DRUGS! Because they are NOT going to be your advocate!

  • Sally

    When I was diagnosed BP, my doctor said I would need to take meds for the rest of my life, always, even if I felt OK, because something like 30-40% of bp patients who don’t take their meds commit suicide.Mania feels fantastic, but it’s much more dangerous than depression, because your decision making can become severely impaired. Then if people are depressed, the manic decision making can make you do things like commit suicide.

  • Teresa Silverlight

    if you want to know the reality re medications, do searches on medications and lawsuits. Not only will the subject of the lawsuits shock you the consumer, but the method that the FDA treats brand drugs vs generics will also surprise everyone; consumers must be aware of the downsides. at least 50% of people that take the anti depressants experience mild to moderate side effects which can be de-stabilizing; moreover, medications that may have worked in the beginning can accumulate in one’s body and become toxic; if a person has a medical condition and for example was on medication to treat that condition, the ssri’s and snri’s can be impacted; you might think that doctors that prescribe these drugs and/or pharmacies will see the adverse conflicts-please think again and do the research yourself; it will and may not only save your life but someone else’s. Also, if one has a medical condition, many times the body will NOT absorb the medications as the meds are supposed to work in the system; it can be a crapshoot in determining what drugs will work and HOW those drugs will work; Williams had a heart condition; his depression could have been impacted by a medication adverse reaction, missed-diagnosed and the drug companies will once again be off the hook because they are so protected, spending millions of dollars to shape consumer protections.

  • rivkele

    Why do people wait till someone dies to talk about this?? It’s too late! He’s already dead!

  • Dannyboy

    He knew how to medicate. Perhaps he was just tired. Not that he didn’t have a riotous and blessed life. For God’s sake why can’t we just accept that he didn’t want to ‘do’ it any longer. It’s actually fairly legitimate in some societies. We don’t know, where’s the note of explanation? Let it go, let him go, let go. All of the pinheads want us to dance with a smile through everything forever. Unfortunately we’re too human and see through THEIR sickness. I say, see you on the other side Robin. Thanks.

  • anebt

    I had severe depression mixed with anxiety disorders for 5 years. I do take Zoloft along with (low-dose) Lithium and Seroquel as adjuncts. It totally took away my depression. It was a very bad depression, just as it was with Robin Williams. I hope Robin took a food allergy test because the SSRIs didn’t do anything until I got rid of all food allergens. Milk, eggs, turkey, and banana were giving me suicidal thoughts.

  • Hope

    I am glad you no longer see that Psychiatrist.
    Continue. To Be Strong

    My mother was diagnosed correctly by 2 different Psychiatrist and did not require hospitalization under their care. unfortunately, my mother refused to continue going to the doctors and went to doctors who misdiagnosed her for 30 years and 40 or more hospitalizations. The family is in financial ruin. she can not tolerate antidepressants. I had to stop working to protect my father from my mother.

  • Elysha Parker

    I’ve read so many ignorant comments here, yet some of the most insightful regarding Mental Illness (MI) I’ve seen since his death. Just like the unique individuals we are, so are the realities and truths of each person with MI and each occurance of it they experience.

    I can say for myself, just looking at my previous depressions, that they were all unique in cause and effective treatment. My 1st happened at age 12 when I’d experienced huge upheaval, not to mention my mom had to undergo emergency surgery. I had received no treatment because I didn’t want to cause my mom anymore stress. I recovered on my own in a few months.

    One of currently 2 suicidal depressions happened at 16 due to facing previous traumas including a rape 2 years. I was able to go to a handful of therapy sessions that helped tremendously, then and now. But due to finances and transportation, I was unable to attend more than that. Left to my own devices, I read every book I could to help myself. Ultimately, with time, and a very supportive boyfriend, I came out of it between 9 – 12 months. This was after a suicide attempt, that was rather weak looking back, a great deal of self injury (SI), a good deal of drinking and working through a few key workbook’s activities.

    I’ve experienced several others over the past 20 years, but the most recent happened a little over 2 years ago and was by far the worst. I ended up in the hospital for a few days. This happened at one of the best times of my life, but at the 1st glimpse of it, I sought immediate help. That was 6 months prior to hospitalization. I went through medication increases and additions from the least likely to cause bad side effects on up. The one that made any real change was done in the hospital due to rapidly dropping one and simultaneously adding another, both with black box labels. I also increased the number of therapy sessions. And for years, I’d used meditation, relaxation, thought stopping, etc. I wasn’t fully discharged for 3 months. I was on medical leave during that time.

    Each of these were all different in cause and effective treatment. Each of thses were experienced by 1 person – me. My diagnosis is Bipolar I. And since the most recent I wrote about above, I’ve been diagnosed with a severe, treatment resistant form of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I am disabled and not even 40 yet. Yet, I haven’t had any depression from it. Saddness, yes, but not depression.

    I’ve shared all of this to show the differences just in 1 person’s experience. I think it’s pretty easy to see that all this debate between 2 opposites is pretty pointless. It’s great people are talking about it, but no one seems to be listening, and without that we will stay as ignorant now as we were before.

    P.S. – We alone are responsible for our healthcare. Not our doctors, therapists or even pharmaceuticals. Everything we need to know about our treatment and medication options are available at our fingertips. And if you choose to be blindly led, or worse yet, choose to take a medication knowing the possible side effects, take responsibility for your choices instead of blaming them on your treatment team or evil pharma if you do end up experiencing one of the known side effects.

  • ivette

    Remenber no matter who you are, you are loved and worth living.

  • ivette

    I reading this website has helped me and I too suffer from depression. Ive been suffering depression for years. I understand why robin williams commit suicide. I though about doing the same many times. But i want other people to know that I’m still here and you have to be strong because you are worth living no matter who you are.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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