Sen. John Fetterman Opens Up About His Clinical Depression
Sen. John Fetterman, a first-term Democrat from Pennsylvania, has checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland to receive treatment for clinical depression, his chief of staff announced on Thursday. Fetterman, who was hospitalized last week at George Washington University Hospital after feeling lightheaded at a Democratic event, had tests done to see whether he suffered any kind of stroke, but there was no evidence of that, a spokesman said. The senator had suffered a stroke last year during the Senate campaign and, while he has been recovering, his speech has been affected.
Fetterman's Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson said that the senator has experienced depression “off and on throughout his life,” but that it had “become severe in recent weeks.” Fetterman's wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman also took to Twitter on Thursday, saying she was “so proud of him for asking for help.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted his support for Fetterman, saying: “Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day. I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon. Sending love and support to John, Gisele, and their family.”
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S., with the National Institute of Mental Health estimating that 8.4% of all U.S. adults endured an episode of major depression in 2020, roughly 21 million people. The highest rates were reported by women, young adults, and those who identify as multiracial. The symptoms of depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association, include changes in mood, appetite and energy, thoughts of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, and physical pains.
Fetterman's open discussion of depression is significant, given how rarely lawmakers talk about their own mental health. His willingness to both disclose his medical condition and the treatment he's sought is also a major step toward normalizing such conversations. While discourse about mental health has become more transparent in recent years, experts say statements from high-profile figures like Fetterman play an important role in continuing to destigmatize these issues.
If you or someone you know requires assistance, please dial 988 to get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Additionally, you can text the word ‘HOME' to 741741 if you would like to receive help from the Crisis Text Line.
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