Democrat Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Wednesday evening to seek treatment for clinical depression, according to his office. Fetterman has been struggling with the effects of a stroke he had last May.
“While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” according to a statement released by Adam Jentleson, Fetterman’s chief of staff.
Dr. Brian P. Monahan evaluated the senator, the attending physician of Congress, on Monday, who recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed, said Jentleson.
“John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis,” said Jentleson. “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.”
According to medical professionals, post-stroke depression is common. One in three stroke patients suffers from the condition, although it is treatable through counseling and anti-depressant medication.
Fetterman is serving in his first weeks as a U.S. senator after winning the seat that now-retired Republican Pat Toomey held in a difficult contest against GOP contender Dr. Mehmet Oz. In the contest, Fetterman defeated Oz by five percentage points and flipped a seat crucial to Democrats holding on to the majority in the Senate. Fetterman served as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor before his election to the Senate.
According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Senator Fetterman “is getting the help he needs” and is anticipated to return soon; however, he didn’t answer questions about the senator’s condition.
However, Schumer said the Democrat caucus is “totally behind him.”
Fetterman would not release medical information during the campaign
As a result of his stroke, Fetterman underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage his two heart conditions, cardiomyopathy, and atrial fibrillation.
Fetterman refused to allow his doctors to answer reporters’ questions or release his medical records. His health became a key focus of the campaign.
Senators from both parties have been supportive after the news was made public and applauded him for acknowledging he needed help and getting it.
Last week, Senator Fetterman stayed in George Washington University Hospital for two days after checking in for becoming lightheaded. Fetterman’s office said tests found that he had no evidence of a seizure or a new stroke.
Gisele Barreto Fetterman, the senator’s wife, wrote on Twitter, “this is a difficult time for our family, so please respect our privacy. For us, the kids come first.” The couple shares three children.
“Take care of yourselves. Hold your loved ones close. You are not alone,” she continued and praised her husband for “asking for help and getting the care he needs.”