Democratic Sen. John Fetterman has returned to his home in Pennsylvania after doctors discharged him from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where they treated him for major depression that had caused him to stop eating.
The first-term Pennsylvania lawmaker was treated by a team led by Dr. David Williamson, Neuropsychiatry Chief and Medical Director. Dr. Williamson says that Mr. Fetterman’s depression is now in remission and there is no evidence of a new stroke, after a stroke nearly took his life in the midst of his successful Senate campaign last year.
His office said Friday he has returned to his home in Braddock, where he formerly served as mayor.
“I am so happy to be home. I’m excited to be the father and husband I want to be, and the senator Pennsylvania deserves. Pennsylvanians have always had my back, and I will always have theirs,” Mr. Fetterman said.
Mr. Fetterman, 53, has auditory processing issues that require him to use a device that transcribes spoken words in real-time. He is expected back in the Senate with his fellow lawmakers on the week of April 17, when the Senate returns from a two-week recess.
In his discharge briefing, Dr. Williamson described that when Mr. Fetterman was first voluntarily admitted to the Neuropsychiatry Unit in mid-February, he had severe symptoms of depression with low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, but no suicidal ideation.
According to the medical team, his symptoms had progressively worsened over the preceding eight weeks. Mr. Fetterman had stopped eating and drinking fluids, “causing him to develop low blood pressure, potentially affecting brain circulation.”
The neuropsychiatry team worked with colleagues in cardiology and neurology at Walter Reed to evaluate and treat Mr. Fetterman. They said they saw no indication of a new stroke, consistent with the opinion of doctors at George Washington Hospital in February 2023.
Over several weeks of treatment, his depression went into remission, doctors say. Additionally, medical specialists examined his auditory processing abilities, and he was identified with mild to moderate hearing loss, both right and left, and doctors fitted him for hearing aids.
Mr. Fetterman thanked the medical team at Walter Reed and said that depression is a treatable illness.
“The care they provided changed my life,” he said. “I will have more to say about this soon, but for now I want everyone to know that depression is treatable, and treatment works. This isn’t about politics — right now there are people who are suffering with depression in red counties and blue counties. If you need help, please get help.”
However, Mr. Fetterman’s absence among other senators, including Sens. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, has been felt in the upper chamber, given the tight margin between Republicans and Democrats.
Mr. Fetterman has missed 53 of the 64 Senate roll call votes during February and March while hospitalized, according to Fox News.
The absences of these senators and others have postponed key legislation and nominations. The chamber last had all 100 senators in the chamber when Democrats passed the inflation Reduction Act and voted along party lines on Aug. 7, 2022.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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