Dr. Campbell: Robin Williams’ death sheds light on depression

Dr. Campbell: Robin Williams' death sheds light on depression (Image 1)

Depression and bi-polar disorder are common ailments in the United States, Dr. Kevin Campbell told WNCN Thursday, and the death of Robin Williams may help bring attention to how to treat people who suffer from those conditions.

Williams, the wildly successful comedian, recently took his own life in an incident that stunned Americans.

‘Depression is a very, very common ailment in the U.S., as is bipolar disorder,” Campbell said. “It hasn’t gotten a lot of press until something bad and tragic happens.

“Bipolar disorder is periods of low sadness but also periods of mania, where you feel on top of the world. The issue with that is when you are in a manic phase, sometimes you don’t take your medicines. And that can lead to a very deep rebound depression.”

Campbell, a heart surgeon, also said Williams’ surgery five years ago could have contributed to the problems.

“Mr. Williams, at age 58, had open heart surgery,” Campbell said. “He had one valve repaired and one valve replaced. Big, traumatic event.

“And what we know is for people who have had heart surgery, post-operatively, depression occurs in about 40 percent of them.”

That surgery, Campbell said, “might have played a role” in leading to further depression in Williams.

Campbell said Williams’ death showed why doctors and family members need to be diligent when someone shows signs of depression and make sure people get the help they need.

“Maybe his legacy will be he drew attention to this very dark, sad illness so that others don’t suffer from the same fate,” Campbell said.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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