The exchange on Thursday night brought up Williamson’s past statements about anti-depressants and Robin Williams’s suicide. It grew so heated at one point that Williamson said, “I feel very little respect here.”
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The issue is personal for Cooper, whose brother, Carter, committed suicide in 1998.
Although the conversation began normally, it soon devolved when Cooper asked her about a podcast interview with actor Russell Brand. During that interview, she called clinical depression “a scam.”
“I’ve lived through periods of time that, by any means today would be called clinical depression, but even that’s such a scam. All that means is somebody in a clinic setting. There is no blood test, right? But if you’ve been there, you know it,” she said to Brand in the podcast.
Williamson took it back on Cooper’s show.
“That was a glib comment and you’re right, Anderson, I have said that was wrong of me to say. Do you know how many women in America are prescribed their antidepressants by their gynecologists? Do you know how many people are prescribed antidepressants after having talked to, even if it is a mental health professional, for ten minutes.”
At that point, Cooper asked about a statement Williamson made after Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014.
“A few months after Robin Williams died by suicide, you posting something I’m putting on the screen, implying antidepressants were the cause of Williams’s death. You wrote the truth about antidepressant helpful for some, harmful for others. Then you linked to this article that was clearly suggesting antidepressants played a role in his death. Do you know who wrote that article? That was by an organization funded by the Church of Scientology, which doesn’t even believe in psychiatry, doesn’t believe in psychiatric medicine for even serious mental illness. They even have a museum in Hollywood called psychiatry, an industry of death,’ Cooper said.
Williamson said she is not “some Tom Cruise about antidepressants,” alluding to the actor’s disapproval of medication, a tenet of his Church of Scientology beliefs.
“Anderson, if somebody is helped by an antidepressant, I’m happy for them,” Williamson said. “And I have never argued that anybody who is on an antidepressant should get off an antidepressant. And not only that, I have always made it very clear, always made it very clear that if anything in my conversation makes people think twice about it, if, in fact, they are on it – that the last thing they should ever do is throw it away because getting off them, people must get off them – if they get off them – very, very carefully. So this idea that I, like I’m some Tom Cruise about antidepressants, I’m not and I never have been.”
Coopers said that Williamson seems “to be sending a message about antidepressants in a blanket way or clinical depression. You’re saying you’re happy for somebody if it helps them. I don’t hear you saying, ‘I encourage you, everybody, talk with a medical provider and see if this is just a regular sadness.”
Watch the video for the full interview.