Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., checked himself into a hospital to “receive treatment for clinical depression,” his chief of staff said Thursday.
Fetterman, the 53-year-old freshman senator who last year suffered a debilitating stroke on the campaign trail, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Wednesday night, chief of staff Adam Jentleson said in a statement.
“While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” the statement said.
“On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of the United States Congress,” the chief of staff said. “Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis.”
“After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself,” Jentleson said.
Fetterman had been hospitalized last week after feeling lightheaded. His doctors determined that he had not suffered another stroke, his office said at the time.
“After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John,” his wife, Gisele Fetterman, said in a pair of tweets Thursday afternoon. “I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs.”
She asked for privacy during the “difficult time for our family,” adding: “Take care of yourselves. Hold your loved ones close, you are not alone.”
Fetterman missed votes on Capitol Hill on Wednesday night and Thursday, NBC News reported.
Fetterman said in June that he had “almost died” after suffering a stroke in May, shortly before winning his party’s nomination to run for the Senate seat in Pennsylvania that was held by now-retired Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
The stroke took Fetterman, then the state’s lieutenant governor, off the campaign trail for months. When he made his public return, Fetterman said he was suffering from lingering auditory processing and speech issues.
He struggled significantly to deliver clear thoughts during his one and only debate with his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in October.
But Fetterman maintained a polling advantage over Oz, a celebrity doctor and TV host backed by former President Donald Trump, even while he was absent from public view.
His victory over Oz in the midterms flipped a red seat blue and helped Democrats extend their slim majority in the Senate.
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said he was proud of his fellow Democrat “for getting the help he needs and for publicly acknowledging his challenges to break down the stigma for others.”
It’s common for stroke survivors to experience depression, and the cause may be biochemical or psychological, according to the American Stroke Association.
Fetterman had been frustrated with his post-stroke health challenges throughout the campaign, his staff has told NBC. His difficulties with communication have also had an impact on his relationship with his family, as has his time away from them due to his Senate duties, NBC reported.
“Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day. I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a tweet.