Actor's sudden death sheds light on depression - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Actor's sudden death sheds light on depression

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - He made millions of people laugh for decades, but Robin Williams struggled with his own demons. The legendary comedian talked openly about his battle with depression and substance abuse. Now his death is shedding light on mental health issues.

He joked about drug abuse during his stand-up act in this video posted on YouTube, but Williams knew first hand the pain of addiction. He'd struggled with cocaine addiction as well alcoholism back in the 1980s. Just last month, he checked himself into a rehab center in Minnesota. His publicist says he was battling severe depression.

I think there's a stigma with mental health and substance abuse, unfortunately," Dr. Alisa Robinson of the Southern California Recovery Center said.

Robinson says celebrities like Williams often deal with added stress from constantly being in the spotlight.

"Being under the microscope, looked at so carefully because you always have people judging you positively and negatively, and if you have an internal negative voice, that's going to add to that," she said.

Robinson shared some of the warning signs, she says, to look out for in severe cases.

"When people are feeling suicidal, warning signs you see people really withdrawing, trying to give away possessions, not showing interest in things they used to enjoy," she said.

Robinson says the key is talking about what's going on, no matter how difficult it may be.

"I think it's important for people to be aware of it. It's nothing to be ashamed of. If you're depressed, get help, there's help out there," she said.

But experts also say another reason people don't seek help is because they just don't believe there is anything that could possibly make things better.

If you or someone you know is battling depression, get help here:

Southern California Recovery Centers

California Suicide Prevention Network: San Diego County

It's Up to Us: Suicide Prevention and Support

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