Why a Politician Receiving Mental Health Treatment Matters

CW: Depression

Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania is receiving inpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for clinical depression, his office announced Thursday. According to his chief of staff, Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Wednesday night.

A doctor met with Fetterman on Monday. The doctor recommended inpatient care. He is undergoing treatment voluntarily, according to his office.

Mental health conditions are common. In 2019, 970 million people worldwide were living with a mental health condition. Anxiety and depressive disorders were the most common.

Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as clinical depression, is a severe mood disorder with a high prevalence in all developed countries. Symptoms can include trouble sleeping, loss of interest in activities, and persistent sadness.

Mental health has a stigma attached to it. People don’t like to talk about it. Sen. Fetterman publicly acknowledging his struggles with mental health is an incredibly powerful thing to do. Depression affects people from all walks of life.

As someone who has struggled with clinical depression for several years, I wish I had sought treatment sooner. It is only within the last year that I have begun to feel better. I started taking an antidepressant in 2020, which has improved my quality of life immensely. I also attended weekly counseling sessions for a couple of years.

Asking for help is necessary, but it is not always easy. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness. Eliminating stigmas about mental health is long overdue. No one should feel guilty for taking good care of their health.


Chand, Suma P. Hasan Arif. “Depression.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 18 July 2022.

Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network. Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (GBD 2019) Covariates 1980-2019. Seattle, United States of America: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2020.

Schapitl, Lexie, and Rhitu Chatterjee. “Sen. John Fetterman Is Receiving Treatment for Clinical Depression.” NPR, NPR, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/02/16/1157570381/john-fetterman-treatment-clinical-depression-health-pennsylvania-senator.

Yin, Xin, et al. ‘Stress-Based Animal Models of Depression: Do We Actually Know What We Are Doing?’ Brain Research, vol. 1652, Dec. 2016, pp. 30–42, https://doi.org10.1016/j.brainres.2016.09.027.


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