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John Fetterman checks into hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression

Sen. Fetterman checks into hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression
Sen. Fetterman checks into hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression 03:02

WASHINGTON (CBS) -- Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Wednesday night to receive treatment for clinical depression, his office said Thursday. 

Fetterman was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician for the United States Congress, on Monday.

Two days later, Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed and Fetterman agreed, according to a release. 

Fetterman has experienced depression on and off throughout his life, but it's become more severe in recent weeks, his office 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," his office said in a release. 

Last week, Fetterman was discharged from George Washington University Hospital after he reported he was feeling lightheaded

Fetterman suffered a near-fatal stroke just days before the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. 

Fetterman's stroke became a prominent issue during his campaign, forcing him to use auditory processing devices to understand questions, and he had difficulty speaking.

But, he later went on to beat GOP nominee Mehmet Oz to win the seat that was held by now-retired Republican Pat Toomey.

Fetterman underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy, and spent much of the summer recovering and off the campaign trail.

Gisele Barreto Fetterman, John's wife, tweeted after the news and wrote in part: "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."

Fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey tweeted that he was proud of Fetterman for getting the help that he needs. 

"Millions of Americans struggle with their mental health," Casey wrote. "I am proud of [Fetterman] for getting the help he needs and for publicly acknowledging his challenges to break down the stigma for others. Terese and I are sending our prayers to John, Gisele, and the Fetterman family."

"I am wishing John Fetterman the very best," Congressman Brendan Boyle, who represents parts of Philadelphia, said in a statement. "Happy he chose to seek treatment. May this be a moment that encourages others similarly struggling to seek help.  

"For me, on a personal level, sometimes the depression would just feel like a massive hole a giant sucking feeling in your chest," State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, a Democrat that represents Lehigh County, said. 

Schlossberg has been public about his own struggles with mental health and believes Fetterman's decision to seek treatment will not damage his political career  

"His brand is one that is built on honesty," he said. "It's one that's built on transparency and by talking about his issues and adding another dimension of vulnerability to who he is, I bet it helps him in the long run."

Schlossberg added he's hopeful others, especially men, see Fetterman's step forward as a sign to prioritize their own wellness.

"You look at John Fetterman, he's a 6-foot-5 bald man with tattoos up and down his arm," Schlossberg said. "He doesn't seem like the person who would be emotionally vulnerable but because of that he's made in roads in ways that other people and frankly other men can't." 

Many neurologists say it's common for stroke survivors to suffer major depression. Some become upset over the loss of their ability to communicate.

"Folks who have experienced a stroke or serious medical condition, depression is actually pretty common," George James, a Philadelphia-based therapist, said. "Feelings of being overwhelmed or not sure what might happen or even thinking about death or loss is something that happens to lots of people. And when you talk about someone like Sen. Fetterman, who's now also in the public eye, I can imagine that might be even more significant for him." 

James says people who are hospitalized for depression usually undergo a reevaluation of medications and might have those drugs changed.

Sen. John Fetterman hospitalized, seeking treatment for depression 01:56

James added due to Fetterman's history of depression, there are certain things that might trigger them to have an experience of depression that is even more intense. He said it could range from moderate to severe.  

"He's in a high-pressure job, so we do need to pay attention to that," James said. 

If you're struggling with mental health, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988. CBS News Philadelphia also has a list of mental health resources.

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