Senator Fetterman voluntarily hospitalized for clinical depression


Emily Shafer, News Editor

Sen. John Fetterman, the newly elected Democratic Senator of Pennsylvania, checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of clinical depression on Feb. 15.

Fetterman has suffered from bouts of depression on and off throughout his life, however, recent stress from his political life and the aftermath of his stroke in May 2022 (which took him out of commission for two months during his campaign), has advanced the severity of it. 

With his new title, Fetterman has recently transitioned to living alone in Washington D.C. while his wife and kids remain in Pennsylvania and still suffers from an auditory processing disorder as a result of his stroke. He is being accommodated with a tablet with voice-to-text transcriptions and other aides which allow him to be fully engaged while serving with other lawmakers.

He had recently spent two days in the stroke unit at George Washington University Hospital after feeling lightheaded on Feb. 6, though tests found that he was healthy and not experiencing another stroke.

Sen. Fetterman was later seen by the Congressional physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan on Feb. 13, who recommended he be treated at an inpatient psychiatric level at Walter Reed for clinical depression. Fetterman’s Chief of Staff, Adam Jentleson, said that Fetterman is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis and that he will soon be back to his normal self.

Experts have weighed in on the commonality of depression after suffering a stroke, and estimate that “up to a third of patients with stroke will have depression at some point after,” according to neurologist Dr. Lee Schwamm.

Many Republicans and conservatives, who had previously taunted Fetterman about his ability to serve as U.S. Senator throughout his campaign, are conflicted over the hospitalization of an active United States Senator. Dr. Mehmet Oz, Fetterman’s opponent in the Senate race last fall, also utilized Fetterman’s health as a way to try to save his own candidacy.

Though many are skeptical, Fetterman’s aides are certain that his resignation is “not even on the table in any sense,” and many politicians are in full support of Fetterman and his recovery.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, an avid supporter of Fetterman, stated that he would dismiss any pressure to ask Fetterman to resign. “He’s going to get the help that he needs… and do a great job for the people of Pennsylvania as their senator,” Shapiro stated.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, “Happy to hear @SenFettermanPA is getting the help he needs and deserves. Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day. I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon. Sending love to support John, Gisele, and their family.”

Though Fetterman is receiving the help he needs, his wife and two kids have driven to Canada this past week to escape the media harassment outside their house as a result of the senator’s situation.

Fetterman has remained at Walter Reed for almost two weeks and his office has stated “there’s no real news to report except that John is doing well, working with the wonderful doctors, and remains on the path to recovery.”

Mental health struggles have long been a taboo topic in the world of politics. In 1972, Democratic candidate Thomas F. Eagleton was forced to drop out of the vice presidential race by his running mate, George McGovern, after it was revealed that he had been hospitalized for depression. McGovern stated in a 2006 interview, “I didn’t know anything about mental illness—nobody did.”

Though many are still convinced that someone with his physical and mental health problems is not fit to serve, many have sent well wishes to him and his family and are looking forward to seeing him back in Congress.