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Dallas County DA Suffers Another Mental Illness Setback

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk seems to have suffered another setback in her treatment for mental illness.

In a statement released Monday, Hawk called mental illness a "fluid and dynamic disease" and announced that she's entering a treatment center for the third time during her 17-month term.

The announcement comes only a month after Hawk checked into a mental health facility in Houston to treat chronic depression. This time, the District Attorney said her treatment at another facility in Arizona would be for mood disorders.

A University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) professor who specializes in mental health treatment says the symptoms are similar. "Our diagnostic and statistical manual has changed over the past couple of years and depression used to be listed as a mood disorder and it's not anymore. So, I'm assuming she's talking about the depression disorders and dealing with that," says Assistant UTA Professor Kiva Harper.

Harper says if Hawk is extending her inpatient care, it's a clear signal that her issues are serious --since most patients can be treated without entering a facility multiple times. "People can have episodes and it can last and sometimes inpatient treatment is warranted other times they can be treated on an outpatient basis but it's pretty obvious she's dealing with some pretty severe issues."

Hawk's first assistant is running the district attorneys office in her absence. But political analysts say even voters sympathetic to her condition deserve a full-time DA.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) Political Science Professor Cal Jillson said, "She will not be reelected if she makes it to the end of her term. Her best course would be to resign, get healthy, and practice law under circumstances that she could control."

In the statement released Monday (see below) Hawk did not say when she plans to return to the office.

"Under the guidance of my doctors, today I'm entering a treatment facility in Arizona that specializes in mood disorders. Mental illness is a fluid and dynamic disease that calls for unexpected and prolonged treatment. Like the tens of millions of Americans that suffer from mental illness, I did not choose this disease, but I am choosing to treat it aggressively and openly in an effort to provide transparency from our office, and to encourage others living with similar struggles to be proactive in treatment and not live in shame." said Judge Hawk. "I'm committed to making my health the top priority so I can honor my commitment of service to Dallas County. I'm blessed to have the continued and steadfast support of my leadership team and colleagues at the DA's office, and I thank them for their hard work in serving our citizens in my absence."

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