Fetterman in hospital, seeking treatment for depression
On Feb. 15, Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed Hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression. In a statement from Adam Jentleson, Fetterman's chief of staff, "While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks." Fetterman is still an actively serving Senator, albeit while not physically present in Congress. Reports indicate that aides and staff members fulfill many of his duties, including constituent meetings, co-sponsoring legislation, and approving statements — including a prepared statement for last week's hearing in which the CEO of Norfolk Southern, the rail company responsible for the derailment in East Palestine, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Prior to his diagnosis, Fetterman was reported to be experiencing difficulty transitioning to life in Washington. For example, to address his issues with auditory processing, Fetterman uses a tablet that provides live captions during meetings and hearings. Fetterman has experienced trouble processing speech since he suffered a stroke in May. Following the stroke, he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator.
It is common for stroke survivors to experience depression, with around 30 percent of patients experiencing depression within five years of their stroke. The risk is higher in individuals with a history of depression like Fetterman. According to Manu Raju, CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Fetterman is likely to remain in inpatient care for the next two weeks as doctors determine his appropriate medication dosage.