Congressman's 'mood disorder' raising questions
CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s disclosure that he is suffering from a "mood disorder" still leaves many questions about his secretive medical leave and whether the Illinois congressman has satisfied mounting calls to be more open about his monthlong absence.
Just hours after Democratic leaders in Congress ratcheted up pressure on Jackson to reveal more information, his office released a brief statement from his doctor on Wednesday saying the Chicago Democrat was receiving "intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder."
But it offered no details about Jackson's whereabouts or even the name of the doctor, citing federal privacy laws.
Several experts said that based on the doctor's use of the term "mood disorder," they believed Jackson might be suffering from depression. But the statement did not elaborate on his condition and rejected claims that the 47-year-old congressman was being treated for "alcohol or substance abuse."
"He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery," the statement said. His spokesman declined to elaborate.
Jackson's father, who appeared agitated by reporters' questions Thursday, asked for privacy.
"He needs and deserves privacy," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said on his way to an unrelated Chicago event, "and the media and all the interests should give us, the family, space for his restoration. That is not too much to ask."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman, said Jackson would know the right time to fully update the public with more information and urged patience. He also took the opportunity to take a jab at lawmakers.
"I know a lot of people are saying, 'When is he going to get back to work? He should get back to work.' Why would he go back to work to a Congress that does no work?" Emanuel said at an unrelated event Thursday. "Why rush? Take care of your health. Guess what? Congress is going to be there."
When Jackson's medical leave was first announced — two weeks after it began on June 10 — his office said he was being treated for exhaustion. Last week his staff said his condition was worse than previously thought and required inpatient treatment, saying Jackson had been privately battling emotional problems. The office has remained mum on details.
The timing of the leave has invited scrutiny, coming as Jackson faces an ethics investigation in the U.S. House connected to imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Days before Jackson's office announced his leave, a fundraiser and family friend also involved in the probe was arrested and charged with unrelated medical fraud charges.
The Associated Press interviewed several physicians who didn't have firsthand knowledge of Jackson's condition but said the term "mood disorder" typically refers to depression or bipolar disorder, which used to be known as manic depression.
Dr. Daniel Yohanna, vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, said depression is more common and affects about 5 percent of men at some point in their lives. Symptoms can range from sleep disturbance and appetite problems to hopelessness and thoughts of suicide, though cure rates are very high, he said.
"It could come out of nowhere, it runs in families, you could have a genetic predisposition, or it can come after a difficulty in your life," Yohanna said. "Once it gets rolling it's hard to stop it on your own."