Fetterman has to remain within the hospital for weeks due to melancholy

US Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) leaves a secret briefing for US senators on the latest unidentified objects shot down by the US military on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, February 14, 2023.

Evelyn Hockstein Reuters

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., will be hospitalized for a few weeks as he seeks treatment for his clinical depression, a senior aide for the senator told CNBC on Friday.

The expected length of Fetterman’s hospital stay was shared hours after his office announced the 53-year-old freshman checked in at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Wednesday night.

Fetterman suffered a life-threatening stroke during the campaign last year and has continued to face health problems while in office. He was hospitalized last week after feeling light-headed, although doctors ruled out the possibility he was suffering a second stroke, his office said at the time.

“While John has suffered from intermittent depression throughout his life, it has only gotten worse in the last few weeks,” Fetterman’s chief of staff Adam Jentleson said in a statement.

“Following John’s evaluation, Walter Reed’s doctors told us that John is receiving the care he needs and will be well again soon,” Jentleson said in the statement released Thursday afternoon.

But Fetterman’s return to the Senate won’t be a matter of days.

“We’re looking at a couple weeks” of inpatient treatment while doctors try different drugs and dial in the right dosages, a senior Fetterman assistant told NBC News Thursday night. A senior official of the senator confirmed this schedule to CNBC.

Fetterman’s absence from Capitol Hill will temporarily constrain Democrats’ slim 51-49 Senate majority, potentially making it harder for the polarized chamber to achieve its goals. Among other things, Congress is working on a bill to raise the US debt ceiling before the summer and prevent the country from defaulting on its commitments. The Senate will not meet next week.

Fetterman missed voting on Capitol Hill Wednesday night and Thursday, NBC reported.

Fetterman’s recent hospitalization prompted a wave of support from his political allies. Many of them praised the senator for speaking openly about his battle with depression, which still carries a stigma in the United States

“John, Gisele – Jill and I are thinking of your family today,” President Joe Biden tweeted Friday.

“Millions of people struggle with depression every day, often in private. Getting the care you need is bold and important. We are grateful to you for leading by example,” said the President.

Depression is a common experience after a stroke. Fetterman’s assistant told NBC that the senator was struggling to adjust to his current situation, which prompted him to seek treatment.

Fetterman’s fundraising team emailed Friday asking supporters to make a split donation to the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association.

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