“The Congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder,” Jackson’s physician said in a statement provided to Yahoo News via the congressman’s congressional office. “He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.” The statement indicated that Jackson’s attending physician and treatment center “will not be disclosed in order to protect his continuing privacy.”
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Jackson’s chief of staff Rick Bryant added that rumors about Jackson receiving treatment for alcohol or substance abuse are false. Instead, some are speculating that Jackson may be suffering from depression.
Several experts said that based on the doctor’s use of the term “mood disorder,” they believed Jackson might be suffering from depression. Doctors interviewed by the Associated Press who didn’t have first-hand knowledge of Jackson’s condition said the term 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 the 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,” he said. “Once it gets rolling it’s hard to stop it on your own.”
Ian Gotlib, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, said depression is generally treated on an outpatient basis. But if doctors were concerned about the safety of the patient or if the disorder were severe enough, they could recommend inpatient treatment.
“The good news is that it’s clearly treatable,” Gotlib said, adding that counseling and prescription drugs would be likely for inpatient treatment and that it could take weeks.
Jackson faced increasing pressure this week to provide details about his leave of absence from Congress.
When Jackson’s medical leave was first announced, 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.
Earlier Wednesday, the AP noted, Democratic leaders in the U.S. House joined Jackson’s colleagues and constituents in urging the congressman to provide a public update about his condition. House Leader Nancy Pelosi, when asked about Jackson, said she hoped he would have “the appropriate evaluation so he can share that information.”
“I feel sad that whatever the situation is that he finds himself having to be away from Congress,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully we’ll see him back here soon again.”