Sen. Fetterman checked into hospital for severe 'clinical depression,' likely gone from Senate for a 'few weeks'

February 17, 2023
Ben Marquis

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) was briefly hospitalized for a few days last week after feeling "lightheaded," but was soon thereafter released after doctors ran a battery of tests and determined that he had not suffered another stroke or seizure.

The freshman senator from Pennsylvania is now hospitalized again, this time of his own volition to deal with "clinical depression," Breitbart reported.

That depression is more than likely related to the debilitating and near-life-threatening stroke Fetterman suffered in May 2022 and was perhaps exacerbated by his rushed recovery from that serious health incident to get back on the campaign trail ahead of November's elections.

Fetterman to "receive treatment for clinical depression"

The news was announced Thursday in a statement from Sen. Fetterman's Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson, who said, "Last night, Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression. While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks."

"On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis," the top staffer continued.

Jentleson added, "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."

The statement was further shared by the senator's wife, Gisele, who wrote on Twitter, "After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs," and added, "This is a difficult time for our family, so please respect our privacy. For us, the kids come first.   Take care of yourselves. Hold your loved ones close, you are not alone."

Likely out of action for at least a "few weeks"

The revelation from Jentleson that Sen. Fetterman's depression had become "severe" in recent weeks was seemingly confirmed to NBC News by an unnamed senior aide who explained that the senator had recently become "more and more reserved with staff" and that his sudden "withdrawn nature" had caused some alarm among his staff.

"This isn't who he was when he was early in recovery" from his prior stroke, but rather was "a much different beast," the aide said and added that the topic of Fetterman's possible resignation for health reasons "was never discussed, not even on the table in any sense."

As for how long Fetterman would be hospitalized and out of action, CNBC reported that the same senior aide said, "We’re looking at a few weeks" -- a timeline that was further confirmed by another top aide for the senator.

That could pose a problem for his fellow Senate Democrats, as they can ill-afford to lose any votes with their marginal 51-49 majority and still hope to be able to pass any legislation or confirm any of President Joe Biden's executive and judicial branch nominees.

However, that problem pales in comparison to Fetterman's health for his Democratic colleagues, as evidenced by the outpouring of supportive messages the senator received from his Senate comrades, many of which were shared by NBC News.

Depression common for stroke survivors

According to the American Stroke Association, depression is a common side effect for stroke survivors, in part because of "biochemical changes" in the brain that can block "positive emotions" but also as a "normal psychological reaction" to the negative impact a stroke can have on a survivor's daily life and routines.

The Association shared several common symptoms of stroke-related depression and suggested that survivors seek assistance from a "good psychologist or psychiatrist" as well as for family and friends of the survivor to keep watch for such symptoms and support their efforts to seek help.

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