Sen. John Fetterman Enters Hospital to Be Treated for Clinical Depression

FILE - Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., leaves an intelligence briefing on the unknown aerial objects the U.S. military shot down this weekend at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 14, 2023. Fetterman is in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to seek treatment for clinical depression. His office said Thursday that Fetterman checked himself in Wednesday night. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

By Patrick Berkery

February 16, 2023

His office released a statement acknowledging that Fetterman has experienced depression intermittently throughout his life, and that the condition had become severe in recent weeks.

Pennsylvania Democratic US Sen. John Fetterman has checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression.

According to his chief of staff, Adam Jentleson, Fetterman checked himself into the Bethesda, Md. medical facility on Wednesday night.

Jentleson acknowledged in a statement that Fetterman, 53, has experienced depression intermittently throughout his life, and that the condition had become severe in recent weeks.

“On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress,” Jentleson said in the statement. “Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis.

“After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself.”  

Fetterman, who had a stroke on the eve of the primary election last May, was hospitalized for two days last week after he reported feeling lightheaded. Tests showed no signs of another stroke or seizure, and he was back at work Monday, voting this week to confirm several federal judges. 

Fetterman succeeded Republican Sen. Pat Toomey after a hard-fought contest against Republican nominee Mehmet Oz. He defeated the celebrity heart surgeon by 5 percentage points and flipped a seat that was key to Democrats holding the Senate majority. 

His campaign was derailed on May 13 when he suffered what he later called a near-fatal stroke. Fetterman underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy. He refused to drop out and spent much of the remaining months of the campaign in recovery.

Oz’s campaign made an issue of whether Fetterman was honest about the effects of the stroke and whether he was fit to serve, openly mocking his health at times.

In an Associated Press profile just weeks after his victory, Fetterman was described as still suffering from auditory processing disorder, a stroke’s common aftereffect. The disorder can leave a person unable to speak fluidly and quickly process spoken conversation into meaning.

The effects of the stroke were apparent in Fetterman’s uneven performance during the fall campaign’s only debate. He struggled to complete sentences and jumbled words, causing concern among Democrats that his election was doomed.

On election night, he told cheering supporters he ran for “anyone that ever got knocked down that got back up.”

In a Twitter post, his wife, Gisele, praised her husband for seeking treatment.

Several other lawmakers, including his fellow Democratic Senate colleague from Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, praised Fetterman for his bravery in acknowledging his struggles with depression and seeking treatment.

Casey, underwent successful prostate cancer surgery on Tuesday and expects to return to a “normal schedule” after recovery, his office said.

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