Courtesy Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy
Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy meets with Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. at the Mayo Clinic on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012.
Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy said Thursday that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is facing a deep depression and has a lot of work ahead of him to reach a full recovery.
Kennedy told NBC News their meeting was "really emotional." Kennedy said it was clear to him that Jackson has been "dealing with a deep depression" that has also affected him physically. "In the room, I could feel it," said Kennedy, referring to the depression's impact on Jackson's physical movement, demeanor and energy.
Jackson is being treated for bipolar disorder and has been on medical leave since June 10.
Kennedy called depression a powerful illness and said Jackson is receiving the best care available. He said Jackson recognizes the challenges he faces and has great determination.
Kennedy said he's confident Jackson will recover, but said the congressman is concerned about his political future.
Jackson's wife last week said her husband was "getting better." At the same time, his congressional staff was telling district officials that he would be back on the job "soon."
Kennedy retired from Congress last year. He has talked openly about his own battles with bipolar disorder and has been treated at Mayo.
A Jackson spokesman declined to comment on Thursday's visit.