WASHINGTON (AP) – Pennsylvania Democratic Senator John Fetterman (AP, pic below), still recovering from a stroke, has checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to seek treatment for clinical depression, his office said on Thursday.
Fetterman, who has struggled with the aftereffects of a stroke he suffered last May, checked himself in on Wednesday night, it said.
“While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” his chief of staff Adam Jentleson said in a statement.
Fetterman was evaluated on Monday by attending physician of Congress Dr Brian P Monahan, who recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed, Jentleson said.
“John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis,” Jentleson said. “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.”
Post-stroke depression is common, with one in three stroke patients suffering from it, and is treatable through anti-depressant medication and counseling, doctors said.
Fetterman, 53, is in his first weeks as a United States senator after winning the seat held by now-retired Republican Pat Toomey in a hard-fought contest against GOP nominee Dr Mehmet Oz.
Fetterman, who was Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, defeated the celebrity heart surgeon by five percentage points, flipping a seat that was key to Democrats holding the Senate majority.
Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, said she was proud of Fetterman “for asking for help and getting the care he needs”.
“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,” she wrote on Twitter.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Fetterman “is getting the help he needs” and is expected to return soon, but declined to answer questions about Fetterman’s condition.
The Democratic caucus is “totally behind him”, Schumer said.
Fetterman suffered the stroke days before last May’s primary election and spent much of the summer recovering and off the campaign trail.
The stroke nearly killed him, he has said.
As a result of the stroke, Fetterman underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy.