Sen. Dan Patrick once sought mental health treatment, took antidepressants


by Jason Whitely / WFAA and Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Updated Friday, May 16 at 6:16 PM

DALLAS – Sen. Dan Patrick was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance in the early 1980s, prescribed antidepressants and was once admitted to a psychiatric hospital, according to court documents released by a former opponent late Thursday night.

The revelation was first reported in The Quorum Report.

The news comes eleven days before the Republican runoff for lieutenant governor in which Patrick is the front runner against incumbent David Dewhurst.

Patrick took an antidepressant called Imipramine for a couple years in the 1980s for a chemical imbalance and was also admitted to Spring Shadows Glen Psychiatric Hospital in the mid-80s for a couple weeks, according to a deposition reviewed by News 8. That psychiatric facility in Houston has since closed.

In the deposition, Patrick said he was not there for psychiatric or emotional problems but instead “for rest.”

He testified that he was also admitted to Memorial City Hospital in Houston in the early 1980s for “rest, fatigue, exhaustion.”

Patrick refused to characterize it as a nervous breakdown.

The information came from a 1989 deposition in a lawsuit against Paul Harasim and the now defunct Houston Post. Patrick was suing for mental anguish among other things after an assault.

Within an hour of the story Thursday night in The Quorum Report, Patrick’s campaign fired back and blamed Dewhurst.

“This is outrageous! Dewhurst had already hit bottom, and now he has found a new low! He has no honor, and knows no shame!” said Allen Blakemore, Patrick’s chief consultant, in a news release.

But WFAA News 8 obtained the court documents from retiring Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson who lost to Patrick and Dewhurst in the primary.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Senator Patrick sought medical attention to help him cope with mild depression and exhaustion,” Blakemore explained in a statement.

The Patrick campaign also distributed a letter from the doctor who treated him in the 1980s.

“He entered the hospital on a voluntary basis for the treatment of depression. The symptoms of depression decreased within a short period of time and he was discharged. There was no evidence of cognitive impairment,” wrote Dr. Stephen J. Kramer in a letter dated July 25, 2011 released by Patrick’s campaign.

The senator has not required additional treatment or medication for nearly 30 years, Blakemore said.

“This has not been a secret; for years on his radio station, he has regularly talked about depression and discussed the importance of early treatment when dealing with depression. He has done this to help others and remove any social stigma for those who seek or are considering seeking treatment,” Blakemore continued.

”My heart goes out to Dan and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with his condition,” Dewhurst told The Texas Tribune late Thursday through a spokesman.

Three Texas senators issued a joint statement Thursday night condemning the release of the records.

“A personal attack of this kind sinks to an unprecedented low, shamelessly attempting to embarrass Dan Patrick for seeking the appropriate medical care to treat a minor bout with depression that occurred almost 30 years ago. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 10 American adults suffer from some form of depression in their lifetime…something which the perpetrators of this attack apparently believe should disqualify them from serving their communities or contributing to society,” said Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, and Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels.

They are all medical doctors and Patrick supporters.

“I don’t want to call it desperate but these are the kinds of things you look for when there’s not a whole lot else out there to help you move voters to your column,” said Rice University professor and political analyst Bob Stein. “And I think it’s going to be very hard for him (Dewhurst) to expect to get much out of this.”

“It seems like he is looking for things probably in all the wrong places,” Stein said of Dewhurst supporters pushing the publication of Patrick’s medical records.

Dewhurst Campaign released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“Commissioner Jerry Patterson operates completely independently of my Campaign, and over my objections he chose to release information from Mr. Paul Harasim’s files, which are all part of the public domain. My heart goes out to Dan Patrick and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with this situation.

“The bottom line is I have not read or reviewed any of Mr. Harasim’s files from his lawsuit with Dan Patrick. Neither I or the Campaign have any control whatsoever over Mr. Harasim’s files.”