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Fetterman on going public with depression: ‘I had assumed that would be the end of my career‘

By Jake Beardslee · January 2, 2024

In brief…

  • Fetterman opened up about his struggles with severe depression earlier this year on "Meet the Press"
  • He checked himself into inpatient treatment when he had thoughts of self-harm
  • Fetterman initially feared sharing his depression publicly would end his career
Senator John Fetterman recently shared his experiences with depression and inpatient treatment publicly, hoping his honesty will help others seek help and end stigma.  Guillermo Romero from Pittsburgh, USA/Wikimedia

Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) recently opened up about his struggles with clinical depression in an interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press.” Fetterman shared that earlier this year, he checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for severe depression.

When his depression was at its worst earlier this year, Fetterman shared that he was so despondent he could not even get out of bed. He had no desire to travel to Washington D.C. for new Senator orientation in January 2023. Fetterman explained that his depression became more severe after being elected to the Senate in November 2022.

While receiving care at Walter Reed, Fetterman’s depression treatment was made public. He told Welker, “I had assumed that would be the end of my career. I didn’t know what impact that would have on my family or anything.” Fetterman said he felt scared about publicly sharing his mental health struggles initially.

However, Fetterman has since recognized the importance of being open about his experiences. He revealed that a colleague had taken her own life the day before his “Meet the Press” interview. Fetterman expressed hope that publicly discussing his depression and urging others to seek help could potentially save lives.

“It would be my goal is to – if – if somebody could hear this kind of message and conversation that we’re having might make a different choice,” he told Welker. “I wanted to be fully honest and let everybody – if they’re being honest about themselves, if they’re living in a blue county or a red county, either it’s themselves, or they know somebody or love somebody that struggles from this kind of issue.”