The celebrity dermatologist's psychiatrist also confirmed she had been treating him for depression

By Becky Randel
April 07, 2015 06:25 PM
Michael N. Todaro/FilmMagic

Dr. Fredric Brandt was on suicide watch and being treated for depression at the time of his death, PEOPLE has confirmed.

The celebrity dermatologist was discovered hanging in his home Sunday morning by close friend John Joseph Hupert, who was staying at Brandt’s house due to suicidal concerns, according to a Miami Police report. Hupert told police that Brandt, 65, was suffering from depression and taking medication for the condition. Police also contacted Brandt’s psychiatrist, Dr. Saida Y. Koita, who said she had been treating him for depression for the last 10 days.

Although Brandt was “hurt” and “upset” by comparisons to a character on Tina Fey‘s Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, sources tell PEOPLE that it was not the cause of his suicide.

However, the doctor – who counted Madonna and Kelly Ripa as clients – appeared to withdraw from friends and family in the years since he became famous. A friend of Brandt’s tells PEOPLE, “He changed he used to speak of his family quite a bit, especially a niece he was very close to.” But lately, “it was like everything was erased, it was only him.”

Despite the doctor’s pain, his struggle appeared to be a private one. Most who knew him only saw his enthusiastic persona, even in the months leading up to his death. Longtime friends Dr. Pedro Portal and his wife, Gloria, gave Dr. Brandt his first job in 1973, practicing medicine at their Miami multi-practice group, and kept in touch ever since. “I never saw him depressed,” Gloria, who visited Brandt just a few months ago, tells PEOPLE. “Every time I saw him, it was quite the contrary – he was happy and helpful.”

Brandt also had “a lot of friends,” Gloria says.

“He really became a social butterfly in his later days,” she adds, though she hadn’t seen him with a partner in recent years.

A source close to Brandt tells PEOPLE he missed that piece of his personal life: “Fredric was depressed and felt lonely because he had no solid relationship of his own.”

And in recent months, he did not feel appreciated by all of his clients.

He said the entire business had changed, and with shifts in the industry that he disliked, he got himself into a funk,” the source says. “He couldn t handle the changes. He felt all alone.”

But Gloria also admits that Brandt – whom she calls a “brilliant innovator” – “loved the limelight, he never stopped being a doctor,” she recalls. “He never failed on a diagnosis.”

A separate source tells PEOPLE Brandt’s staff was “baffled” when he told them he planned to extend his stay in Florida rather than return to his New York City office, as he was known as a bit of a workaholic. As such, Gloria asks that Brandt be remembered for his dedication to his practice. “What he did was real because he wasn’t money hungry,” she says. “It came along the way because of what he created, but not because he was looking for that.”

With reporting by LINDA MARX

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