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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. being treated for ‘mood disorder,’ his office says

Mitchell: Jesse Jackson Jr. needs to tell his constituents exactly what is going on
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Updated: August 13, 2012 1:55PM

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is being treated for “a mood disorder” — not for alcoholism or substance abuse, according to a statement from the Chicago Democrat’s office.

His office did not address a report that Jackson is in Arizona.

“The Congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He is responding positively to treatment,” according to a statement from the congressman’s office, citing Jackson’s unnamed physician.

In the statement, Jackson’s office noted: “In addition, the rumors about him being treated for alcohol or substance abuse [are] not true.”

The brief, carefully worded statement was released after NBC News reported that Jackson was being treated for alcoholism and addiction at an Arizona facility.

The network’s Andrea Mitchell, citing unnamed friends of Jackson, reported the allegation of addiction Wednesday evening. But the network also quoted Jackson’s wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), denying he was in rehab.

The subsequent statement quoting Jesse Jackson Jr.’s doctor began by saying:

“Information regarding the Congressman’s treatment is protected by federal law under the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPPA”). The name of the attending physician and treatment center will not be disclosed in order to protect his continuing privacy.”

HIPPA does not prohibit Jackson or his family from disclosing information. It only prevents hospitals or doctors from releasing information Jackson wishes to remain secret.

After Jackson’s office released the statement Wednesday night, Mitchell reported that she called her source back and then reported that Jackson is suffering from “severe clinical depression and a drinking problem.”

Jackson’s aides previously had only confirmed that he had checked himself into an inpatient facility outside Chicago for treatment of unspecified long-term “physical and emotional ailments”

“He does have sleep disorders,” an aide told the Sun-Times previously. “He works seven days a week most weeks. He has been under intense pressures over the last four years, so he wants to see if he can figure out a way to get some decent sleep.”

Mental Health America, formerly the National Mental Health Association, says there are four basic forms of mood disorders: “major depression, cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar disorder), SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and mania (euphoric, hyperactive, over inflated ego, unrealistic optimism.)”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “If you have a mood disorder, your general emotional state or mood is distorted or inconsistent with your circumstances. The most common mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder (also called manic depression). Another mood disorder is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression most often associated with fewer hours of daylight in the far northern and southern latitudes from late fall to early spring.”

Earlier Wednesday, the congressman’s father, contrary to his habits over the last four or more decades, walked briskly away from the television cameras at his Rainbow/PUSH national conference at the Hilton and Towers.

Reporters asked the Rev. Jesse Jackson about his son but the elder Jackson dismissed those questions as “inappropriate — this is a business meeting.”

The elder Jackson was welcoming Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to the conference, and he wanted to talk about that. But the press wanted to talk about his son, who disappeared a month ago citing “exhaustion.”

Calls for Rep. Jackson to be more forthcoming kept rolling in Wednesday, with the No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and the National Republican Congressional Committee joining in.

“I think Congressman Jackson and his office and his family would be well-advised to advise the constituents of his condition,” Hoyer said.

“It’s troubling that Jesse Jackson Jr. is hiding from his constituents. He needs to be and should be open and honest with the families of Illinois. But you know this isn’t surprising given his track record of ethical questions,” said Katie Prill, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Jackson is the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation over whether his staff worked to help him get appointed Illinois’ senator.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday, “Hopefully he will have the appropriate evaluations, so he can share that information, and I feel sad that whatever the situation is that he finds himself having to be away from Congress but hope that we will see him back here soon again.”

Quinn said he thought the public “had heard enough” about Jackson’s condition. “I pray for Jesse Jackson Jr. every day, and I think everyone should,” Quinn said.

Following the Rainbow/PUSH luncheon, the media began assembling at the south end of the dais, where Jackson was heading.

Jackson turned and headed toward the north end of the dais. The media ran to head him off there.

He turned and headed back toward the south end of the dias. The media ran back to the south end.

Then he walked down the center steps of the stage. Security and Rainbow/PUSH staffers held back the media, who shouted questions to Jackson which he ignored as his aides pushed him through a curtain and told the media to leave.

When the press asked questions of Jackson before the event, former Sen. Roland Burris jumped to the senior Jackson’s defense.

“Let it go!” he yelled. “You all are not here to cover this convention. You’re here to cover Jesse Jr. That is ridiculous, and I’ve got enough seniority around here to tell you media people to cool it. You did it to me. Now you’re going to try to do it to Jesse Jr. You’re just hounding people. Go on and get a life. I’m telling Sen. Durbin to back off. I’m telling Steny Hoyer to back off. I’m telling Congressman Gutierrez to back off. That’s what they did to me.”

Contributing: Maudlyne Ihejirika; Fran Spielman; Lynn Sweet

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