Robin Williams’ Son Opens Up About the Effect of Late Father’s Misdiagnosis — Autopsy Reveals the Truth

OPINION | This article contains commentary that reflects the author's opinion.

The son of Robin Williams is speaking out.

In a new podcast interview, Zak Williams, who is 38 years old, is opening up about his father’s psychological struggles.

Podcaster Max Lugavere hosts a show called “The Genius Life” every Wednesday.

“What I saw was frustration,” Zak said about his father’s diagnosis and misdiagnosis.

Roughly two years before his death by suicide in 2014, doctors told Williams that he had Parkinson’s disease.

This disease was expected to impact his central nervous system and affect movement, causing tremors.

However, an autopsy would later reveal that Robin and his medical team had treated the wrong illness.

Zak said, “What he was going through didn’t match one to one [with] many Parkinson’s patients’ experience.”

Zak says his father’s misdiagnosis likely exacerbated the emotional toll that dementia takes on patients. His son observed his struggles to focus as well as the “challenges performing his craft.”

Williams experienced anxiety and depression prior to his death.

“It was a period for him of intense searching and frustration,” Williams said. “It’s just devastating.”

Fox News reports:

Their candid conversation included their mutual struggles with depression, anxiety and the pain of watching a loved one be consumed by a debilitating neurodegenerative disease: dementia with Lewy bodies. Both Lugavere and Williams have watched a parent suffer through the “frustrating” illness — the pain of which has left a lasting impact on both men.

It was a poignant conversation to debut on the day that would have been Robin’s 70th birthday, on July 21″…

“Lightning quick recall — that was his signature [on stage],” he said, referring to the impact of dementia on patients.

Both dementia with Lewy bodies [DLB] and Parkinson’s dementia disease [PDD] are subtypes of dementia, marked by a buildup of proteins that clump together in neurons of the brain, inhibiting both the central and autonomic nervous systems.

However, DLB distinguishes itself from the other subtype with symptoms including a notable decline in cognitive abilities, and struggles with everyday mental activities such as planning, problem-solving, focusing and staying alert, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association. Hallucinations, sleep-walking, mood swings and physical rigidity are also characteristic of DLB.