Robin Williams Teaches Us About Mental Illness

Source: Wikipdia

Source: Wikipedia

Robin Williams Teaches Us About Mental Illness

[Article via Psychology Today. Click above for full post]

As media journalists run wild trying to get the latest facts surrounding Robin Williams’ death, there are two facts that stick out the most – his history of addiction and his history of depression. Robin Williams’ history of addiction spans decades, stopping cold turkey in 1982. However, after 20 years of sobriety, he relapsed several years ago. His relapse was compounded with a severe depression he has been dealing with recently.

It’s impossible to know exactly what Robin Williams was going through. We can judge from the outside and think that he had it all. But what we see are just the awards, the homes, the accolades, the money, and the superficial things of what our society deems as “success.” However, underlying all of those things appears to be a man going through things we all go through. We may not all battle “severe” depression, but we’ve all experienced some level of the “blues.” We may not have battled a particular substance use addiction, but we’ve all struggled to cope with difficult times.

Research can’t tell us exactly why people become addicted or depressed because the truth is that it varies from person to person and there are a multitude of factors that come together. However, research has told us that nearly half of the population will experience a major psychiatric illness at one point in their lives and a majority of those will meet diagnostic criteria for two or more illness (Kessler et al., 1994). Depression and substance use are two of the most co-occurring mental illnesses. And Robin Williams’ death is a reminder that it can affect anyone.

Even after years of sobriety, Robin Williams relapsed. He told Parade Magazine just last year that he walked into a store one day, saw a bottle of whisky, bought it and soon enough was on the path of buying several bottles at a time. We don’t know if depression was a factor in his relapse or if it was something else, but it’s important to understand the cues that trigger us towards our habits. For each person, cravings are evoked from different things. It can be as simple as seeing a bottle of whisky, smelling something reminiscent of a drug, a glass that reminds you of what you used to drink out of, or even driving through the area you used to use. Research has even shown…

[Rest of article is posted on Psychology Today. See below for link.]

Original article posted on Psychology Today. Read the rest of the post here at Psychology Today!

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Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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Categories: Addiction Connection, Blogs by Rubin

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