Did Robin Williams' open heart surgery contribute to his deep depression? That’s what many are wondering following the beloved performer's shocking suicide.
New York cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula says post surgical depression is very common. Especially when the patient has struggled with depression in the past.
She told INSIDE EDITION, "It really is a reality that up to 20 to 40 percent of patients after heart surgery can develop some sort of depression. We do know that people who have underlying depression before their heart surgery are probably going to be at higher risk for having depression after their surgery."
She says the heart operation itself can cause depression because plaque from the arteries around the heart can break off and travel to the brain, affecting emotions.
Dr. Narula went on to say, “That can cause damage to the vessels of the brain and potentially death of some cells in the brain.”
Williams' longtime pal, comedian Andy Dick, has had his own well publicized battles with depression and substance abuse. He says Williams helped him during rough times.
Dick told INSIDE EDITION, “I think everyone's looking for answers. I want to know what happened. He, at times, downright took care of me when I was not doing great. He was so full of love and life. You have to think that he must have been in a lot of pain.”
Dr. Narula hopes Williams' death will be a wake up call, not just for patients but the doctors who treat them.
“Hopefully this will be eye opening for many practitioners and doctors that they do have to pay attention to somebody's mental health after they've had surgery just as much as they pay attention to their physical health,” she said.