Gov. Deval Patrick's wife is being treated for depression and exhaustion, his office said in a statement released Saturday.
The governor will limit his schedule in the next few weeks to spend more time with Diane Patrick and her family, according to the statement.
"The family asks for the prayers and understanding of the public. We also ask respect for the family's privacy at this difficult time,'' the statement said.
It is unclear what precipitated the announcement.
Kyle Sullivan, the governor's spokesman, did not give any further details on her condition or where she is seeking treatment.
"We are not expanding upon the statement,'' Sullivan said.
Patrick has come under pressure throughout his first eight weeks in office for a variety of things, including his hiring a $72,000-a-year staff member to handle scheduling and interview requests for his wife of at least 22 years.
The couple's younger daughter, Katherine, is in the midst of applying to college and Patrick said last week that it's been a stressful time for the family.
Diane Patrick, born in New York in 1951 and currently a partner at the downtown Boston law firm Ropes & Gray, was featured in several media reports that chided her husband for hiring a former fund raiser to serve as her assistant at an office in his third-floor Statehouse suite.
Patrick's four Republican predecessors did not have staffers dedicated solely to handling their spouses' official activities.
Diane Patrick held a historic Bible from the "Amistad'' slave ship at her husband's swearing-in ceremony in January.
Patrick has pushed to balance public responsibilities and his duties as a husband and father.
After he won the election and before he was sworn in, he consulted with former governors about the best way to manage family life and professional life.
He heard such suggestion as only making public appearance on weekends as a couple. Patrick also took a 10-day vacation to South Africa with his wife and children family just before his inaugural to celebrate his 50th birthday and to take a post-campaign break.
Patrick's predecessors at the corner office have also had to deal with wives struggling to shrug off health problems.
In 1990, Katharine Dukakis published her memoir in which she discussed her ongoing battle with alcoholism, revealing that she even drank rubbing alcohol. The wife of former Gov. Michael Dukakis also discussed the pressures of being a political wife, and her disappointment over her husband's defeat in the 1988 election.
Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, has also described her battle with multiple sclerosis.
This program aired on March 11, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.