As the media continues to sensationalize the tragic loss of Robin Williams, one realizes the realities of substance abuse and mental illness. All too often these 2 mental health problems collide and leave a path of destruction for not only the individual but also family and friends. It is interesting when people say such things as, “He seemed so happy. Why would he kill himself when he had everything?” Unfortunately having everything does not exclude one from experiencing mental illness and substance abuse problems. Major depression is an illness of the brain which creates a chemical imbalance with the neurotransmitters. This chemical imbalance often requires medication and psychotherapy to stabilize. With co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse and mental illness, it is hard to say which came first and this is why we must treat both at the same time.
“Depression and substance abuse can affect anyone”
It has been my experience while working with depressed patients who have also achieved a large degree of success; it is very confusing to have success and as a result of depression not able to enjoy this success. When there are no psychosocial stressors contributing to low mood and one is still depressed, life does not seem to have meaning or worth living. Death by suicide is often the result of at least 10 unsuccessful suicide attempts. When someone is successful, they are truly in a state of despair. Robin Williams was a wonderful Entertainer. He has left us all too soon as a result of the lethal combination of mental illness and substance abuse. If you are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse or someone you know is, please get help. Treatment is necessary along with the love and support of family and friends.