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Fetterman discharged from Walter Reed, depression in remission

Freshman senator back in Pennsylvania, will return to Congress after recess

Sen. John Fetterman arrives for a classified briefing in the Senate on Feb. 14, the day before he checked into Walter Reed to be treated for depression. Fetterman was discharged Friday and returned home to Pennsylvania.
Sen. John Fetterman arrives for a classified briefing in the Senate on Feb. 14, the day before he checked into Walter Reed to be treated for depression. Fetterman was discharged Friday and returned home to Pennsylvania. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John Fetterman was discharged Friday from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where for the past month and a half the Pennsylvania Democrat had been receiving treatment for major depression in the neuropsychiatry unit.

Fetterman is back home in Braddock, Pa., and will spend the two-week Easter/Passover recess in his district. He plans to return to the Senate the week of April 17.

“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,” Fetterman said in a statement. “Pennsylvanians have always had my back, and I will always have theirs.” 

Fetterman’s depression is in remission, according to David Williamson, Walter Reed’s neuropsychiatry chief and medical director, who led the team in charge of his care.

The senator checked himself into Walter Reed on Feb. 15. According to notes from Williamson’s briefing that Fetterman’s office shared, he arrived with severe symptoms of depression, including low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement and feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

Fetterman’s symptoms had progressively worsened over the eight weeks before he checked into Walter Reed, a timeline that overlaps with the start of the freshman senator’s tenure in Congress. He had stopped eating and taking fluids, which led to low blood pressure, according to Williamson.

Medication therapies were administered to help Fetterman manage his depression. His mood and motivation steadily improved and his sleep and appetite were restored, ultimately leading Williamson to declare the senator’s depression in remission.

“I am extremely grateful to the incredible team at Walter Reed. The care they provided changed my life,” Fetterman 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. … If you need help, please get help.”

Fetterman, who during his campaign suffered a stroke that led to speech and auditory issues, worked with speech-language specialists while at Walter Reed. His speech noticeably improved as his depression did, according to Williamson, and continued outpatient rehabilitation is expected to yield further progress.

In evaluating Fetterman’s auditory processing abilities, his medical team identified mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss in both his ears and fitted him for hearing aids.





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