Judging by the 5 a.m. call I got yesterday from a national news network, and from the barrage of in-print, online and televised discussion I saw as the day wore on, it is clear that the revelation that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is being treated at a "residential treatment facility" for a mood disorder has raised far more questions than it has answered.
The key issues in the media debate/discussion appear to be: What is a mood disorder, and would the treatment of a mood disorder really require prolonged treatment at a residential facility?
Being told someone has a mood disorder is a little bit like learning someone has cancer. There is no such thing as "cancer," only specific types of cancer, which vary hugely from one another in location, symptoms and prognosis and need for treatment.
Like cancer, "mood disorder" is a general term for a group of disorders that can vary widely in terms of symptoms, prognosis and treatment. A mood disorder can be a mild depressive episode that sends a high-functioning person to a counselor for support and guidance, or it can be a florid psychotic episode that lands a previously law-abiding citizen in jail, or worse.
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