Fetterman leaves Walter Reed with depression ‘in remission’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman has left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after six weeks of hospital treatment for clinical depression, with plans to return to the Senate when the House resumes session at mid-April, his office reported. he said Friday.

In a statement, Fetterman’s office said he is back at his home in Braddock, western Pennsylvania, with his depression “in remission” and gave details about his treatment, including that his depression was treated with medication and that he uses hearing aids. loss.

It was the latest medical episode for the Democrat, who won last fall’s most expensive Senate race after suffering a stroke he said nearly killed him and from which he continues to recover.

Fetterman, who has a wife and three school-age children, said he’s happy to be home.

“I am excited to be the father and husband that I want to be, and the senator from Pennsylvania that he deserves. Pennsylvanians have always had my back and I will always have my back,” Fetterman said. “I am extremely grateful to the amazing team at Walter Reed. The care they gave me changed my life.”

Fetterman, 53, will return to the Senate the week of April 17.

Doctors describe “remission” as when a patient responds to treatment such that they have returned to their normal social function and are indistinguishable from someone who has never had depression.

In an interview to be broadcast on “CBS Sunday Morning,” Fetterman said the symptoms gained strength after he won the November election.

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

He said that “I had stopped getting out of bed, I had stopped eating, I was losing weight, I had stopped participating in some of the things I love most in my life.”

Fetterman checked into Walter Reed on February 15 after weeks of what aides described as Fetterman being withdrawn and uninterested in eating, talking about work or the usual banter with staff.

At the time, Fetterman had barely served a month in Washington and was still recovering from the aftermath of the stroke he suffered last May when he went to Walter Reed on the advice of Capitol Hill physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan.

Post-stroke depression is common and can be treated with medication and talk therapy, doctors say.

Fetterman’s return will be welcome news for Democrats who have struggled to find votes for some nominations, notably without him in the Senate.

Fetterman’s office also released details of his treatment with medical professionals led by Dr. David Williamson, a neuropsychiatrist.

When admitted, Fetterman had “severe symptoms of depression with low energy and motivation, minimal language, poor sleep, slow thinking, slow movement, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, but no suicidal ideation,” said the statement attributed to Williamson.

The symptoms had steadily worsened over the past eight weeks, and Fetterman had stopped eating and drinking. That caused low blood pressure, according to the statement.

“Her depression, now resolved, may have been a barrier to commitment,” she said.

Fetterman had the stroke last May while campaigning in a three-way Democratic primary race. He underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy.

One of the main side effects of Fetterman’s stroke is auditory processing disorder, which can make someone unable to speak fluently and quickly process spoken conversation into meaning. Fetterman uses devices in conversations, meetings and congressional hearings that transcribe spoken words in real time.


Follow Marc Levy on Twitter: @timelywriter


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