BRADDOCK, PA – Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman is back in Braddock. Earlier today he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was treated for major depression by a team led by Dr. David Williamson, Neuropsychiatry Chief and Medical Director. According to Dr. Williamson, Senator Fetterman’s depression is now in remission. Senator Fetterman’s entire course of treatment took place in the Neuropsychiatry unit at 7 East, a medical unit. With the Senate in recess for the next two weeks, Senator Fetterman will spend time with his family and constituents in Pennsylvania, and return to Washington, D.C. when the Senate session resumes on April 17th.
“I am so happy to be home. I’m excited to be the father and husband I want to be, and the senator Pennsylvania deserves. Pennsylvanians have always had my back, and I will always have theirs,” said Senator Fetterman. “I am extremely grateful to the incredible team at Walter Reed. The care they provided changed my life. I will have more to say about this soon, but for now I want everyone to know that depression is treatable, and treatment works. This isn’t about politics — right now there are people who are suffering with depression in red counties and blue counties. If you need help, please get help.”
In his discharge briefing, Dr. Williamson described the following:
- On admission in February Fetterman had severe symptoms of depression with low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, but no suicidal ideation. Symptoms had progressively worsened over the preceding 8 weeks and Fetterman had stopped eating and taking fluids, causing him to develop low blood pressure potentially affecting brain circulation. He was admitted on a voluntary basis to the Neuropsychiatry Unit (7 East), which is a medical unit, on February 15, 2023.
- The Neuropsychiatry team worked with colleagues in Cardiology and Neurology at Walter Reed to evaluate and treat Fetterman. They reviewed medical records and imaging studies from George Washington hospital, UPMC, and from Lancaster General Hospital and performed additional studies at Walter Reed. They saw no new stroke, consistent with the opinion at George Washington Hospital in February 2023. His neurological exam was stable compared with past assessments. Cardiac Echocardiogram showed improvement from last year with a left ventricular ejection fraction of 50% – 55% and no blood clots in the heart. Blood pressure was low and it was likely that poor hydration and weight loss contributed to that. The Cardiology team carefully changed medications and reduced dosages while Fetterman’s depression was managed with medication therapies.
- Over the subsequent weeks, Fetterman’s mood steadily improved. Sleep was restored, he ate well and hydrated, and he evidenced better mood, brighter affect and improved motivation, self-attitude, and engagement with others. His treatment gradually produced remission of his depression. He engaged in education about depression and read an entire book on the subject (Dr. Raymond De Paulo’s “Understanding Depression”), asking many insightful questions. He expressed a firm commitment to treatment over the long term.
- Current status of his auditory processing abilities was evaluated and we identified mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss, both right and left, and he was fitted for hearing aids. He also worked with Speech-Language specialists. With improvement in his depression, improvement in the patient’s speech abilities was noticeable and we believe that significant continued improvement is likely with continued outpatient rehabilitation. Fetterman has expressed a firm commitment to engaging in this rehabilitation process. His depression, now resolved, may have been a barrier to engagement.
- The 7 East Team opined that he was ready to return to his family, pursue outpatient treatment, and resume work. He was discharged on March 31, 2023.