In 1972, when depression was much more stigmatized than it is now, Sen. Eagleton, who at the time was the running mate of presidential candidate George McGovern, held a press conference to reveal that he had been treated for depression and had received ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), a treatment in which an electric current is applied to the brain in order to induce a seizure. He was forced to reveal his illness after an anonymous tip to the press gave him away and eventually he left the ticket.
Clark Hoyt, the reporter who broke the story, told Editor & Publisher, "I felt bad for him on a human level. But when you are talking about someone who is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, that is something that should be reviewed."
As I look back at this event I feel a mixture of admiration and sadness. I admire him for his courage, but I feel sad for what it cost him.
Would things have been different if he were running today, when great strides have been made both in treating and understanding depression? Is being treated for depression a hindrance in doing a good job as president or vice-president? Abraham Lincoln was reported to have been dogged by clinical depression all his life, yet he is considered one of our greatest presidents. Would the fact that a candidate has had clinical depression influence your vote? Share your comments below.
You can read more about Sen. Eagleton from our U.S. Politics: Current Events Guide at About.com