Olivia Heilemann
News Editor

On Feb. 16, U.S. Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania voluntarily checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. 

Fetterman made the decision to seek psychiatric assistance after reportedly feeling overwhelmed and experiencing extreme symptoms of depression.

On Nov. 8, 2022, Fetterman won the Senate Seat as a Democrat for the State of Pennsylvania. However, Fetterman suffered a stroke just days before he secured the Democratic nomination, complicating his position. Many believe the pressure of this incident is to blame for the current state of his mental health.

One week prior to checking himself in at Walter Reed, Fetterman was a patient at George Washington University Hospital, where he spent two days in the stroke unit undergoing a multitude of tests to rule out the possibility of another stroke. The visit forced Fetterman to take a step back and evaluate his physical and mental state. 

Medical evidence supports the notion that post-stroke depression occurs after one experiences the trauma. Dr. Eric Lenze, the head of the Psychiatry department in St. Louis, said depression affects one in three people recovering from a stroke, but added that controlled clinical trials have found to be promising.

“It’s a very treatable condition,” says Dr. Lenze. “Not just on the symptoms of depression, but on one’s functioning.”

Mental health is a common topic of discussion in today’s society. However, there is not much talk of it from a political standpoint. Fetterman’s condition could possibly change the conversation as he recovers and heads back into office. His resume proves his qualifications but his medical history paints a different picture of the pressure in the political field.

In the six weeks he has been in office, Fetterman has already received multiple accommodations proving his transition is more difficult as he is still recovering. The Senate has arranged for Fetterman to receive live audio to text transcription as well as closed captioning to continue his work in the Senate. His Democratic colleagues communicate with him through a tablet that transcribes their words to his post-stroke auditory processing issues.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to protect people from being

discriminated because of their disability. Fetterman will continue to receive accommodations following his admission to be able to do his job. 

*If anyone is experiencing depression or other mental health issues, please reach out. Dial or text the 988 Suicidal and Crisis Lifeline. 988 Lifeline provides confidential, 24/7 support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health related distress.