WASHINGTON — Senator John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania, announced Friday that he has left Walter Reed Military Medical Center, six weeks after admitting himself to treatment for clinical depression, using the occasion to seek out those suffering from mental health challenges. Help.
Mr. Fetterman will return to the Senate on April 17 after a two-week vacation, his spokesman said, adding that the senator plans to spend time with his family and constituents in Pennsylvania until then. Walter Reed’s chief and medical director of neuropsychiatry, Dr. David Williamson, Mr. Fetterman’s depression is now determined to be in remission, his office said.
“I am very glad to be home,” said Mr. Fetterman said in a statement. “I am happy to be the father and husband that I want to be, and Senator Pennsylvania deserves.”
Mr. Fetterman, 53, said his decision to open up about his depression reflected a new openness among some public figures to talk about their mental health challenges, holding himself out as an example of the transformation possible through treatment. He thanked the medical team at Walter Reed, saying the care “changed my life,” and promised to say more about it soon.
“By now, everyone should know that depression is treatable, and treatment works,” he said. “This is not about politics. Currently there are depression sufferers in red districts and blue districts. If you need help, please get help.
In an interview with CBS “Sunday Morning” airing this weekend, Mr. Fetterman spoke for the first time about the apathy and hopelessness he experienced before going to the hospital.
“I stopped leaving my bed,” he said. “I stopped eating. I was losing weight. I stopped doing some of the things I love in my life.” Despite winning one of the most competitive Senate races in last year’s midterm elections, “depression can make you absolutely believe that you’ve actually lost,” he said. He began what he described as “a downward spiral.”
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In his discharge briefing provided by the senator’s office, Dr. Williamson, Mr. Fetterman never had suicidal thoughts, but “suffered from severe symptoms of depression such as low energy and motivation, slurred speech, poor sleep, slow thinking, slow movement,” he wrote. Guilt and sense of worthlessness.”
For the past six weeks, Mr. Fetterman participated in talk therapy, had his medication monitored by doctors and walked the facility’s grounds for treatment. Dr. He read a copy of Raymond DePaulo’s book “Understanding Depression” and looked at it like a puppy. As treatment continued, his doctor noted, ”Sleep returned, he ate well and was hydrated, and he showed better mood, brighter affect, and improved motivation, self-attitude, and engagement with others.”
Mr. Fetterman and his top aides were in no rush to rescue him. Although his political opponents have raised questions about his health and his ability to serve in the Senate, given the length of his hospital stay and the lingering effects of a severe stroke he suffered last year, it left him with disabilities that made adjustments. His new job is very challenging.
In February Mr. When Fetterman visited the hospital, the tulips in the garden were not budding. By the time he left after his long stay, they had blossomed.
As a parting gift to the employees, Mr. Fetterman gave her tulips, said an aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the personal details of her departure.
Mr. Fetterman’s office has been operating in his absence, with his chief of staff, Adam Gentleson, visiting the hospital every morning to meet with the senator to brief him on the day’s work.
On Thursday, Mr. Fetterman introduced his first bill, the Railroad Liability Act, which seeks to expand rail safety requirements after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in February.
However, his office and his Democratic colleagues were eager for his return.
“Nobody in the Senate looked like him,” said Mr. Gentleson said in an interview earlier this month. “That guy is going to be a force of nature as a senator.”