CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Chicago Democrat who took a hushed medical leave two months ago, is being treated for bipolar disorder, the Mayo Clinic announced Monday.
The Rochester, Minn.-based clinic specified his condition as Bipolar II, which is defined as periodic episodes of depression and hypomania, a less serious form of mania.
"Congressman Jackson is responding well to the treatment and regaining his strength," the clinic said in a statement.
Bipolar II is a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drive and is likely caused "by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors," the clinic said. The statement also mentioned that Jackson underwent weight loss surgery in 2004 and said such a surgery can change how the body absorbs foods and medications, among other things.
The statement Monday was the most detailed to date about the congressman's mysterious medical leave, which began June 10. But it raised new questions about when the congressman can return to work.
A Jackson aide said last week that the congressman was expected back in the district within a matter of weeks, but Jackson's spokesmen declined to comment Monday.
His father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, wouldn't say much about the diagnosis.
"I'm glad he's getting the treatment he needs and is responding well," the elder Jackson said, adding that "there's no timetable" for his recovery.
Experts and mental health advocates say many people are able to work and function in their daily lives while managing treatment.
Treatment includes medication and psychotherapy, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The institute estimates about 5.7 million American adults suffer from the disorder, which can be a lifelong disease.
At least one other member of Congress has suffered from it while in office.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island has talked openly about his lifelong struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction. He's was a leading voice in Congress for removing stigma linked with mental illness. The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy was a congressman for 16 years and retired last year.
The younger Kennedy was arrested in 2006 after an early morning car crash near the U.S. Capitol that he said he could not remember. After spending a month at Mayo for treatment of addiction and depression, Kennedy pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs.
"I had two of the biggest successes in politics after I went to treatment," Kennedy said, referring to getting nearly 70 percent of the re-election vote in 2006 and his legislative victory of getting a bill requiring mental health parity passed in 2008.
"It was because I ran toward the problem and not away from it. When I returned to my district, I spoke openly about it," he said.
Kennedy said he planned to visit Jackson on Thursday. He said he and Jackson had a lot in common: Both served on the House Appropriations Committee together and had famous fathers.
Jackson's office didn't announce his medical condition until nearly two weeks after he went on leave, and it initially described the problem as exhaustion. Later, his office disclosed that Jackson had "grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time." A statement from an unnamed doctor said Jackson had a "mood disorder."
Earlier this month, Jackson's office announced he was at Mayo and being treated for depression and gastrointestinal issues, after a transfer from the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona.
Though the Mayo Clinic mentioned Jackson's weight loss surgery, its statement Monday stopped short of directly tying it to his mental health problems. Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Traci Klein declined to comment.
Dr. Jaime Ponce, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, said there is no evidence that the type of surgery Jackson had can cause bipolar disorder. A deficiency of the nutrient thiamine can cause a brain condition that could mimic bipolar disorder, Ponce said, but "bipolar disorder is totally different."
Jackson underwent a duodenal switch procedure in 2004, which involves removing part of the stomach and rearranging the intestine so less food is absorbed. He lost 50 pounds.
Dr. Vivek Prachand, associate professor of surgery at University of Chicago, said people already taking medications for depression can undergo weight loss surgery but may need their medications adjusted afterward. Prachand added that surgery is a drastic change that can trigger an episode in someone with a history of depression.
Jackson aide Rick Bryant said last week that Jackson appeared in good spirits and wanted him to push forward on projects in the district, which includes Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. Jackson, who first won office in 1995, is on the November ballot with two little-known candidates and is widely expected to win re-election.
The timing and manner in which the medical leave was handled has invited scrutiny.
Jackson is under a House Ethics Committee investigation for ties to imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jackson's office announced his leave just days after a former fundraiser connected to the probe was arrested on federal medical fraud charges.
Jackson has denied wrongdoing. -- (AP)
CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., the son of the civil rights leader, has returned to his home in Washington after treatment for depression at Mayo Clinic, Jackson's chief of staff in suburban Chicago said Friday.
"He's at home in Washington convalescing with his wife and children," Jackson aide Rick Bryant said. "Let's hope he returns to work on Monday."
Congress goes back into session Monday following its summer break.
Bryant said he's not sure exactly when the Illinois congressman was discharged. Mayo Clinic spokesman Chris Gade referred all questions to Jackson's office.
Jackson went on a secretive medical leave in June, when family members said he collapsed at home. His absence was all the more notable due to the high public profile of his father, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who made bids to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988.
His office said in August that he was being treated at Mayo because of depression, after a transfer from the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona.
The clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has said Jackson was being treated for Bipolar II, which means he was suffering from periodic episodes of depression and hypomania. Hypomania is a less serious form of mania.
Former Rhode Island U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who also has dealt with bipolar disorder and been treated at Mayo, said after visiting Jackson at the clinic last month that the current congressman has "a lot of work" ahead of him on the road to recovery.
He said Jackson was taking his depression seriously and will have to learn how to treat his illness.
Kennedy, who served with Jackson on the House Appropriations Committee, left Congress last year. He has been an outspoken advocate for mental health and spoken publicly about his own struggles.
In their few public comments about Jackson's illness, family members pointed to the stress of his job and political disappointments over the years. Jackson first won office in 1995, and had his sights set on being a U.S. senator or Chicago's mayor. Those hopes dimmed in the wake of allegations about his connections to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a prison sentence for corruption.
The timing of the medical leave has invited more scrutiny on that front.
A pending House Ethics Committee investigation focuses on allegations that Jackson discussed raising money for Blagojevich's campaign so the then-Illinois governor would appoint him to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.
Jackson's office announced his medical leave days after a former fundraiser connected to the allegations was arrested on unrelated federal medical fraud charges.
Jackson hasn't been charged and denies any wrongdoing. -- (AP)
There are many questions and a lot of speculation about Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., these days concerning his whereabouts, and whether he will resign or continue to hold his congressional seat. There is also speculation about a House Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged misuse of campaign funds that has now expanded to include his wife, Sandi.
Jackson, 47, who won re-election on Nov. 6, checked himself out of the Mayo Clinic on Nov. 13 and hasn’t been seen publicly since. He’s been on medical leave since June, allegedly for bipolar disorder and other health issues, but in the interim, there’s been no word about if he is going to return to work.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, among others, have both said Jackson needs to show his face, and at least explain to the people who re-elected him what’s going on.
“It has reached that point, and I have tried to be sympathetic and understanding - because I believe that mental illness is in fact an illness," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. in an interview with WDWS 1400, a Champaign, Ill. radio station. “It can be treated and should be taken seriously, and I stand behind those who are struggling with it, but there are so many issues that are emerging here and he is a public figure, and there reaches a point where he has to square what is being said about him with the reality of his life and he has to step up and say more.”
Jackson’s latest departure from the public forum follows the continuing House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations that he used campaign finances to remodel his home and purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. There are also questions into his reported dealings with deposed and imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. His leave of absence coincided with that investigation. According to reports, the House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Jackson and his associates discussed raising money for Blagojevich in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich is now imprisoned on charges that he tried to sell the position.
It has also been reported that Jackson is negotiating a guilty plea deal with the United States Department of Justice over the allegations that he funneled campaign funds for personal use.
Jackson, who was re-elected to the House of Representatives despite his legal problems and health issues, could face jail time if there is sufficient evidence against him.
"My deep and sincere thanks to the people of the 2nd Congressional District, I am humbled and moved by the support shown today," Jackson said in a prepared statement following his re-election. "Every day, I think about your needs and concerns. Once the doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years. My family and I are grateful for your many heartfelt prayers and kind thoughts. I continue to feel better every day and look forward to serving you."
The son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson took medical leave around the same time that a colleague, Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested on 17 counts of fraud. Nayak testified during the trial for Blagojevich that he was authorized by Jackson to offer the governor as much as $6 million for the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. Jackson denied the allegations.
“I’ve committed and participated in no such scheme. It’s been a thorough investigation. And I think the investigation has revealed that,” Jackson said in a published report. He was never charged in the case although a House Ethics Committee continues to investigate.
Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., is reportedly negotiating a plea deal with the United States Department of Justice over allegations that he funneled campaign funds for personal use.
Jackson, 47, who was just re-elected to the House of Representatives despite his legal problems and health issues, is expected to resign his congressional seat and could face jail time. Federal investigators allege that he used campaign funds to purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend and also to redecorate his residence.
"My deep and sincere thanks to the people of the Second Congressional District. I am humbled and moved by the support shown today," Jackson said in a prepared statement following is re-election. "Every day, I think about your needs and concerns. Once the doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years. My family and I are grateful for your many heartfelt prayers and kind thoughts. I continue to feel better every day and look forward to serving you."
But Jackson’s promise to serve his constituency may be premature. The son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson took a medical leave of absence in June, around the same time that a colleague, Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested on 17 counts of fraud. Nayak testified during the trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that he had been authorized by Jackson to offer the governor as much as $6 million for the Senate seat left vacant when Barack Obama launched his presidential campaign. Jackson denied the allegations.
“I’ve committed and participated in no such scheme. It’s been a thorough investigation, and I think the investigation has revealed that,” Jackson said in a published report. He was never charged in the case, although a House Ethics Committee continues to investigate.
Jackson has been keeping a low profile since he left Congress in June for medical treatment for exhaustion. He has since been at the Mayo Clinic, where he was diagnosed with bipolar depression. In October, federal agents began a criminal probe of Jackson’s alleged misuse of campaign finances.