Fetterman Says He Feels Hopeful ‘For The First Time’ After Depression Treatment

Sen. John Fetterman said that he feels hopeful “for the first time” after discharging from a hospital where he spent six weeks receiving treatment for his depression.

The Pennsylvania Democrat checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Feb. 15 for inpatient treatment for clinical depression, after what his neuropsychiatrist described as “low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, but no suicidal ideation.”

On Friday, Fetterman’s office said his depression is “in remission,” and that he is partly treating his illness with medication. The senator, 53, is expected to return to Capitol Hill when the chamber resumes session later this month.

In an interview released Sunday, Fetterman spoke to Jane Pauley on “CBS Sunday Morning” about his recovery journey for the depression he’s battled throughout his life.

“I will be going home,” he said, adding that it will “be the first time ever to be in remission with my depression. … And I can’t wait to [see] what it really feels like, to take it all in, and to start making up any lost time.”

Fetterman entering recovery comes nearly a year after the then-candidate experienced a stroke, putting his health at the forefront of Pennsylvania’s Senate race. The stroke left Fetterman with an auditory processing disorder that his team now says he uses hearing aids and closed captioning for.

The senator won the election in November, but told Pauley that his depression began growing in the time between the campaign and his swearing in. Fetterman recalled not being able to get out of bed, not eating, losing weight and no longer engaging in things that he loves.

“The whole thing about depression is that objectively, you may have won, but depression can absolutely convince you that you actually lost,” he said. “And that’s exactly what happened. And that was the start of a downward spiral.”

A third of stroke patients experience clinical depression, which doctors say can be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Fetterman said that he made the decision to enter treatment on his son’s 14th birthday, something the senator expressed guilt about.

“It makes me sad,” he said while tearing up. “You know, the day that I go in was my son’s birthday. And I hope that for the rest of his life, his birthday will be joyous, and you don’t have to remember that your father was admitted.”

Pauley responded with a reframe: “This is where your renewal began. His birthday is a day for both of you to celebrate.”

“Well, that’s a good way to look at it. I’m looking forward to doing that,” Fetterman said, adding that he feels hopeful “for the first time” and that it’s a “strange feeling for me to have.”

The senator’s transparency around his depression and post-stroke accommodations has helped normalize and destigmatize discussions about disability and mental health.

“My message right now isn’t political,” he said. “I’m just somebody that’s suffering from depression.”

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