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Robin Williams Death Influenced By Antidepressant Medication | What The General Population Needs To Know

Updated on December 7, 2014
What are you putting in your body?
What are you putting in your body? | Source

Toxicology Reports

Everyone waited on the edge of their chairs so that they could project their own opinion about the death of the late and great Robin Williams. It was a way to relieve the consciousness of so many fellow individuals that hoped he was at least out of his mind when he made the decision to end his life. In many ways I guess that would have allowed for the perception of the funniest man alive to continue living in those that followed him. So selfish to think that even in his death, his autopsy was still about the American view of a person rather than the person alone.

Getting to the report, the medical examiner commonly releases to the media if drugs or alcohol were found in the individual’s system. In the case of Robin Williams it was found that those substances were not in his system and thereby allowed the media to spread the word that he was not under the influence substances. What the media failed to report or acknowledge was antidepressants were found in Robin Williams’s system, particularly Remeron.

What Is Remeron

This medication is intended to treat major depressive disorders. The properties of the medication work to replace under produced chemicals in the brain. Robin Williams had expressed having depression during his lifetime.

However, the warning label on this medication is very explicit and cautions that suicidal thoughts and/or attempts have been known to increase in individuals taking this medication. In addition this medication should not be taken by a person with past addiction history which Williams admitted. The medication label also warns against using this medication with individuals with bipolar disorder, also suspected in Williams.

The fake happy pill
The fake happy pill | Source

Remeron Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation

Serious Side Effects

  • Swelling of hands/feet
  • Shaking (tremors)
  • Confusion
  • Sign of infection

Seek Medical Attention Right Away if:

  • Fast heart beat
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe dizziness
  • Severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Unusual restlessness

(, 2014)

Drug Interactions

Also found in Williams possession, though not in his system was a recent prescription of Seroquel, a commonly prescribed antipsychotic medication. This medication is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar and at times depression. Despite having an active prescription for both medications only Remeron was found in his system. However, it is cautioned against using these medications in conjunction with each other. suggests only using this combination under special circumstances. Thereby, it is to most of our wonder what were Robin Williams’s special circumstances and were these appropriate medications. Also, could the combination of medications have led to suicidal thoughts and ultimately behavior.

Do you believe that mild to moderate mental health disorders can be treated holistically and free of psychotropic medications?

See results

Lessons Learned

This article is meant to provide awareness to consumers across the globe that being mindful of the products and services that you use is highly recommended. In today’s society finding information is within a few keystrokes. So as a word of advice, anytime a medication is prescribed follow-up at home by searching the medications and the side effects. If multiple medications were prescribed search them together to ensure that the interactions of the medication check out. Also, it is significant to be upfront with your physician about all the medications/drugs you take.

Being in control of your own health is important because the pharmaceutical industry is out to make money and customers, not healthy people. Therefore, it is our own personal responsibility to ensure our improved health rather than declined health.

How To Safely Use Psychotropic Medications

Psychotropic medications have the potential of alleviating many symptoms related to mental health disorders, though one must be at least minimally educated on the medication consumed. It is recommended that illicit drugs or alcohol be not used with prescription medication as those substances can cause adverse reactions and health complications.

Taking any medication as prescribed is very important for both symptom relief as well as to mitigate side effects. Psychotropic medications are commonly titrated up and down, which means the dosages are increased and decreased over time. Consequently, it is essential to not suddenly stop taking these medications as it can be dangerous and may cause sudden reactions to the system.

Warning Signs

Paying close attention to warning signs of any medication taken is essential. It is unknown what side effects a person will experience prior to using the said medication. Therefore, a trial and error approach is commonly required with psychotropic medications and multiple changes and alterations traditionally follow.

It is always recommended to report any symptoms increase or change to the prescribing physician. Also, report any symptoms that are troubling or cause some question. Common side effects of psychotropic medications are:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth/eyes
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Reduced libido
  • Sleepiness
  • Brain fog/unclear thoughts


Holistic Treatments

Though psychotropic medication is essential in some, holistic treatments have been proven to be highly effective for many. Creating natural chemicals in the brain are preferred over introducing synthetic versions because if the brain does not restore its own ability to create these chemicals the body will become dependent on synthetic form. However, that is what the pharmaceutical companies bank on. Pharmaceutical companies insist that the only method to treat low to moderate mental health disorders is with medication. Though, to be told those companies are in it for only a few bucks. And by a few I mean billions of dollars. Hence the overwhelming television adds and other media propaganda.

However, treating some mental health disorders naturally has great benefits and without the irritation of side effects and being dependent on medication. Some holistic treatments found to help low to moderate mental health disorders are:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation/yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • Diet
  • Sexual activity
  • Hobbies

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of,

but stigma and bias shame us all.

— Bill Clinton


Exercise stimulates increased Serotonin, an essential naturally produced chemical that promotes happiness. By getting your body moving the brain produces Serotonin and thereby can alleviate mild to moderate symptoms.


Meditation and yoga again gets the body moving, however, the relaxation component of both of these activities can significantly reduce anxiety. Meditation is a common holistic practice used in therapy to reduce anxiety. The basis of this activity focuses on the internal function of the system, which is overloaded when feeling anxious. Thereby, meditation and yoga teaches a person to gain internal control over the system, hence controlling the anxiety.


Mindfulness is an internal action that affords the persons the ability to recognize internal processes. It is the practice of being present in the moment without self-judgment. So rather than feeding anxiety or depression, mindfulness focuses on recognizing it and normalizing the experience without judging the system for being in that state. If you have been anxious or depressed the symptoms increase when they are fed by negative thoughts, though by recognizing the symptoms they either remain the same or decrease. The purpose of mindfulness is to manage rather than to desire a different state of being.


Not anything amazing, but diet does have a great deal to do with how one’s system works. For instance, drinking a lot of caffeine has the tendency to produce anxiety. Therefore, if anxiety is experienced it would be beneficial to reduce the intake of this substance. Also, foods high in fat and carbohydrates tends to increase or influence a sluggish feeling, which can feel like depression. So if you already feel depressed, then these foods can accentuate that feeling. As a rule of thumb look for foods high in vitamins such as B, C, and D which are all linked to energy. In addition, other over-the-counter supplements can prove to increase one’s mood such as using St. John’s Wort.


Sexual activity also activates Serotonin in the brain similar to exercise. Yet some would prefer this activity to exercise, as there are multiple benefits. Also interesting, most psychotropic medications set out to treat mild to moderate mental health disorders decrease the sex drive. Depression also naturally decreases one’s sex drive.


Again doing something that you enjoy kills two birds with one stone. Hobbies allow you to create or do something enjoyable on top of creating natural Serotonin. Getting active is key when trying to overcome mild to moderate mental health disorders.

Know What You Are Putting In Your Body

The message here is first and foremost, be aware of what you are ingesting and the secondary gain of whom is suggesting a product to you. The increase of psychotropic medication is phenomenal and in many cases can be completely avoided and treated with holistic measures. Medication is not completely terrible, though holistic measures should be exhausted prior to seeking out a synthetic replacement for what the brain can produce on its own. Most if not all mental health disorders lack some ability to produce required brain chemicals and thereby needs a replacement of such chemicals to restore normalcy. However, that replacement does not have to be from a pill bottle but from everyday activities. In the end, be completely aware of what you are putting in your body and educate yourself about the risks.


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    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Elizabeth for reading and appreciating. You are right we did loose an icon but my hope is like yours that exposure and reduction of stigma could at least be our result. That would be a great tribute if nothing more.

    • Elizabeth Barrett profile image

      Elizabeth Barrett 

      3 years ago from Maine

      This is a very important article, thank you for sharing this information. People need to know the dangers of psychotropics and particularly of mixing them. This was a great loss to the world, and I hope it can at least bring more exposure and remove some stigma from this topic.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Hi 4FoodSafety for the comment and question but that would be a very complex and ambitious answer. Of course an antidepressant is used for the purpose of increasing one's mood and it is known that exercise has similar effects. However, it would sound too simple to prescribe exercise without considering concerns of the entire individual person. Each patient requires an individual approach. I am sure that is not the answer you are probing for, however, treatment is not that straightforward and cannot be answered as such. Again thanks for stopping by and inquiring.

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      3 years ago from Fontana, WI


      I must ask the hard question especially since you are in the field, should antidepressants be prescribed without an adjoining prescription for exercise?

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Angela for your comment and also the work that you do with the mentally ill. Medication certainly has its benefits for some severe disorders though generally speaking other alternatives should be first for the vast majority, yet is not the norm.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 

      4 years ago from Florida

      Very helpful article. I especially like the first photo showing the person's head full of pills. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. I see it everyday on my job when a person first comes in with some symptoms of mental illness and after a few days they begin to look like a zombie. Thanks for making us aware.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Donna for the comment. It is true, as consumers we need to be informed. Especially when it comes to medication that can potentially harm us. Have a great day.

    • Social Minds profile image

      Donna S 

      4 years ago from Southern California

      Excellent information you have provided here! Solid down to earth consumer facts that everyone should know before being treated or taking a new med. More often than not, MDs do not inform the patient about the potential hazards of these medications beyond the simple, you might experience some dry mouth type symptoms. People need to take it upon themselves to get educated when prescribed a new med. If you absolutlely have to take a med, do your research.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Iris for the comment. It is true that we are blinded at times that we are talking about people and their lives.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Excellent article, Michelle. The last line of your opening paragraph is powerful. It is about people, not about their disorders.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Hi Lori and thank you for the comment. You are absolutely right there are a flood of speculations related to how Williams died. But the bottom line was to give consumers information about what is being put in their bodies and to make sure that you check medication interactions if you choose to take them. I also agree that holistic measures are significantly effective and free of side effects other than hard work and accountability. It is a choice but unfortunately for those with severe mental illness the medication may be cheaper and holistic measures that include increased mental health care may not be afforded by many that are affected. However, it is my opinion that natural measures be tried first.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I believe the drug interactions could have contributed to Williams' suicide, but thousands of writers and journalists have speculated causes from A to Z. The bottom line is, we don't know for sure. There is a lot of information of a personal nature, as well as health issues, that may have caused his choice, or a combination of both.

      HOWEVER, your information on psychotropic medications, and non medical ways to treat psychiatric disorders are excellent and I applaud you for sharing them. I can say without reservation, that in many cases, a mental health issue can be treated effectively by practicing good self care. It's starts with attitude - you have to want to.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Linda for the comment and thank you for sharing your personal experiences. Holistic measures have the ability to provide so much and I agree that you must listen to your body. Robin Williams's death was tragic but hopefully eye opening for many.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      Excellent information on prescription drugs versus the holistic approach. For many years I was able to keep my depression and anxiety pretty much under control by walking and meditating. As I got older, I learned I needed a medication to keep me baseline. It is so important for people to listen to their bodies, as they know it best. I'm sharing this helpful hub. I'm still so very sad about the death of Robin Williams.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Suzette for the comment. It is true as I mentioned, some disorders will likely require medication. However through my own work and research as a mental health professional it has been proven that if a client works closely with their therapist even in the case of severe mental illness such as schizophrenia medication can be avoided. Though in today's society consumers are set on the quick fixes and are sold by the propaganda put forth from pharmaceutical companies that make consumers turn against holistic measures as they prove to be too difficult and less appealing.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Very interesting and informative. The holistic approach is always best but it is also best to consult a physician. For some, the presription drug is what is best for the patient. Chronic depression sometimes can only be eased by a prescription drug and supplemented by the non-pharmecutical suggestions. You give a very comprehensive review of this topic and I enjoyed reading this.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Hi Audrey thanks for the comment and for sharing this information. It is unfortunate how diseases and medication can change a person, but more importantly allow the consumer to have full information about what they are consuming.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi md Great article about the danger of drugs, especially taking multiple medications. I recently read Robin Williams suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. I had a friend with that disease whose onset seemed sudden, following the death of his wife. He became very confused, lost weight, and soon was like a different person. These diseases are so sad and the drugs and possible suicidal tendencies even sadder. Thanks for sharing. Pinning. Blessings, Audrey

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Theresa for the comment. I agree that this is a very important subject and one that many are unaware of. Unfortunately it takes people like Robin Williams to die and for those of us out there to expose the harm of these medications. Thanks for sharing this subject matter, it is one I hold very closely.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Great insight you have provided as to the supposedly "safe" and "prescribed" drugs being so very dangerous. I, too, had these same thoughts when I read about Williams' autopsy report stating no illicit drugs were found in his body, but my mind went straight to, well, what about what was legally prescribed to him. My mother was always one to be so cautious at to what medications we place in our bodies, even the so-called safe prescribed medications.

      Yes, our nation is suffering at the hands of being overly prescribed medications by doctors who must be influenced so much by the pharmaceutical companies.

      I have thrown away prescription drugs after reading the side effects and thought the so-called cure is worse than the whatever is ailing me at the time

      Up +++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Important hub!

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Bill you are absolutely right, most of psychotropic medications on the market are full of side-effects. Many times the general public has already bought into the idea of the quick fix that these medications promise so they avoid the holistic treatment that require work. Unfortunately we are seeing the havoc medication is having on our nation. I wish more were practical rather than this drive-through mentality.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You know what this reminds me of? On television, there will often be ads for certain medicines, and at the end of the commercial they always talk about dangerous side-effects. Listening to those side-effects is enough to scare the hell out of most people.

      Great information here, and a side-order of practical sense. :)


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