FIRST ON FOX: Several physicians weighed in after Pennsylvania Democrat Senator John Fetterman checked himself into the hospital for clinical depression.
Fetterman’s health has been at the forefront since he suffered a stroke amid the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race, staying in the spotlight even after he took the oath of office.
The Pennsylvania Democrat was hospitalized for several days last week before checking himself in again.
Dr. Marc Siegel told Fox News Digital that a ‘study out of strokes in 2016 reports’ that ‘one out of three strokes over a period of time has depression.’
‘But we think it’s much greater than that because the stroke symptoms themselves can be masked and you can think it’s the stroke when it’s actually depression,’ Siegel said. ‘The anxiety that you feel after a stroke can turn to depression and you may not be as easily able to diagnose.’
Siegel said ‘it has to do with a lot of issues here,’ number one being ‘brain chemistry changes after a stroke,’ which he says ‘can interfere with serotonin and other things.’
‘Dopamine things that actually put you in a better mood. One is neurochemical. The other issue is frustration and anxiety from not meeting your own expectations,’ Siegel said. ‘Clearly in this case, meeting other’s expectations. So it’s both biochemical and psychological and sociological, and a lot of pressure on him trying to perform up to the level of a US senator, whatever that means these days.’
Siegel said he is ‘not his doctor’ and doesn’t ‘know exactly what prompted this, but if Fetterman ‘feels that he needs to be in a hospital, then I would conclude or infer that the level of depression is significant enough so that he really can’t go back to work anytime in the immediate future.’
‘Per reports, he has struggled with depression throughout his life,’ Dr. Daniel Bober, the chief medical officer of Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare in Hollywood, Florida, told Fox News Digital. ‘His recent stroke was a factor in whether he would be elected to the Senate.’
‘Depression is common after stroke, affecting approximately one third of stroke survivors at any one time after stroke,’ Bober said. ‘It is possible that this may be a psychological reaction to the stroke, or related to the area where the stroke occurred within the brain.’
The psychologist told Fox News Digital that ‘there are a variety of treatments with good response rates, so it is encouraging he is seeking help.’
Another physician, Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, told Fox News Digital the situation is ‘very sad’ and his hospitalization was by Fetterman’s ‘choice.’
‘He recently recovered from a stroke which could predispose you to sadness, depression. Any trauma or disease or illness can cause result in depression. The key is being strong enough and understanding to seek help,’ Nesheiwat said.
‘He has missed 8 votes this year due to illness,’ she said. ‘I pray for him and wish him best in health.’
The doctors’ calls come as Fetterman checked himself into a Washington D.C. hospital Wednesday night to be treated for clinical depression, according to his office, less than a week after checking out.
Adam Jentleson, Fetterman’s chief of staff, released a statement Thursday.
‘Last night, Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression. While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,’ Jentleson wrote.
‘On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis.’
‘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.’
Fetterman was hospitalized for three days last week after feeling lightheaded, but returned to the Capitol Monday after doctors ruled out another stroke or seizure.
Fox News Digital’s Aubrie Spady contributed reporting.