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Sen. John Fetterman checks himself into Walter Reed for clinical depression

Fetterman checks into hospital for depression
John Fetterman checks into hospital for depression 01:51

Washington — Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on Wednesday night to receive treatment for clinical depression, his office said in a statement.

Adam Jentleson, the senator's chief of staff, said that Fetterman's depression, which he has experienced "off and on throughout his life," 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," Jentleson said. "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's wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, praised her husband for seeking help.

"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," she tweeted. "I'm so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs."

On Friday, President Biden tweeted: "John, Gisele – Jill and I are thinking about your family today. Millions of people struggle with depression every day, often in private. Getting the care you need is brave and important. We're grateful to you for leading by example."

The announcement from Fetterman's office prompted one lawmaker, Rep. Ritchie Torres, a New York Democrat, to reveal he was hospitalized for depression in 2010, and could spark a broader conversation about mental health.

"I admire Senator John Fetterman for openly seeking treatment for depression at Walter Reed," he posted on Twitter, adding that he "would not be alive, let alone in Congress, were it not for mental health care. Millions of Americans are rooting for you, Senator."

Fetterman, a Democrat, was elected to the Senate in November, flipping a key seat that was crucial to Democrats' maintaining their majority. He was hospitalized last week after feeling light-headed while attending a Democratic retreat in Washington, D.C., and discharged Friday, two days later.

Fetterman, 53, suffered a stroke last May while running for the Senate and had surgery to implant a pacemaker. His office said tests conducted while he was at George Washington University Hospital last week ruled out a new stroke and said he showed no evidence of seizures. 

His health became a central issue during his campaign against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, who repeatedly questioned whether Fetterman was fit for office. Fetterman's doctors released a letter in October stating that he had "no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office."

Fetterman, who has been in office for less than two months, has spoken publicly about his recovery from the stroke, which he said "didn't come out of nowhere."

"I almost died," he said in a June statement. 

Fetterman acknowledged using a closed-captioning device to read questions during interviews and in an October debate with Oz.

The New York Times reported that a monitor was installed at Fetterman's desk in the Senate chamber that provides closed-captioning, and the Senate sergeant-at-arms arranged for live audio-to-text transcription for his committees.

Several of Fetterman's colleagues offered well-wishes to him after his hospitalization was announced.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he is "happy to hear" Fetterman is receiving help.

"Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day," he wrote on Twitter. "I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon. Sending love and support to John, Gisele, and their family."

The sentiment was echoed by Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.

"I'm glad that [Fetterman] is seeking care at this time. It's important to take care of your mental health and it takes extreme strength to reach out when you need help. I'm here for you, John," he tweeted.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, a New York Democrat, said she is "proud" of the senator for getting treatment.

"Senator Fetterman showed only strength with his decision," she wrote in a tweet. "The mental health crisis confronting America affects people from all walks of life — we can beat it together. Praying for John, and so very proud of him for getting the treatment he needs."

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