WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania Democrat Senator John Fetterman announced Friday that he had checked out of Walter Reed Military Medical Center six weeks after admitting he had been treated for clinical depression. staff.
Mr. Fetterman will return to the Senate on April 17 after a two-week vacation, according to his spokesman, who said the senator planned to spend time in Pennsylvania with his family and constituents until then. His office said Dr. David Williamson, Walter Reed’s chief of neuropsychiatry and medical director, determined that Mr. Fetterman’s depression was now in remission.
“I’m so happy to be home,” Mr Fetterman said in a statement. “I’m excited to be the father and husband I want to be, and the senator Pennsylvania deserves.”
Mr Fetterman, 53, whose decision to reveal his depression reflected a new openness among some public figures to talk about their mental health issues, made a point of presenting herself as an example of the change that was possible with treatment. He thanked Walter Reed’s medical team, saying the care “changed my life,” and promised to say more about it soon.
“For now, I want everyone to know that depression is treatable and that treatment works,” he said. “This is not about politics. Right now, there are people suffering from depression in red counties and blue counties. If you need help, ask for help.”
In a CBS “Sunday Morning” interview airing this weekend, Mr. Fetterman spoke for the first time about the listlessness and hopelessness he previously experienced check in at the hospital.
“I couldn’t get out of bed,” he said. “I had stopped eating. I was losing weight. I had stopped involving some of the most — things I love in my life. He said that despite winning one of the most competitive senate races in last year’s midterm elections, “depression can absolutely convince you that you really lost.” Thus began what he described as “a downward spiral.”
In his resignation briefing provided by the Senator’s office, Dr. Williamson wrote that Mr. Fetterman never had suicidal thoughts, but suffered from “severe symptoms of depression with low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement, guilt and worthlessness.”
For the past six weeks, Mr. Fetterman has been participating in talk therapy, getting his medications checked by doctors, and taking therapeutic walks in the facility’s healing garden. He read and donated a copy of Dr. Raymond DePaulo’s Understanding Depression. His doctor noted that as treatment progressed, “sleep was restored, he ate well and hydrated, and he showed better mood, clearer affect, and improved motivation, self-esteem, and engagement with others.”
Mr. Fetterman and his best assistants were determined not to rush his recovery. That was despite questions from his political opponents about his health and ability to serve in the Senate, given the length of his hospitalization and the lingering effects of a massive stroke he suffered last year that left him limitations that have made adjustments to his new job more challenging.
When Mr. Fetterman arrived at the hospital in February, the tulips in the garden had not yet come out. By the time he left after his extended stay, they were in bloom.
As a parting gift to staff, Mr Fetterman offered a bouquet of tulips, according to an aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private details of his departure.
Mr. Fetterman’s office has been operate without himwith his chief of staff, Adam Jentleson, visiting the hospital each morning to meet the senator and brief him on the day’s work.
On Thursday, Mr. Fetterman introduced his first bill, the Railway Accountability Act, which aims to expand rail safety requirements following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in February.
Still, his office and his Democratic colleagues were eager to return.
“No one in the Senate has seen him be himself,” Jentleson said in an interview earlier this month. “That person becomes a force of nature as a senator.”