Reviews | Profile of Senator John Fetterman on Courage to Fight Depression

Reviews |  Profile of Senator John Fetterman on Courage to Fight Depression


Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) offered a moving and exemplary profile of courage on Sunday that could help millions of other Americans by challenging the stigma of mental illness. In an interview that aired on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” with Jane Pauley, the senator described in raw and personal terms how he battled depression and sought treatment following his victory in the 2022 election showpiece race.

Mr. Fetterman, then Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, suffered a stroke last May and his health became an issue during the campaign. Stating that he was fighting for all those “who have been knocked down”, he beat Mehmet Oz, the famous TV host, for the Senate seat. Then, a dark cloud appeared to envelop him after Election Day.

“It’s like…you just won the biggest, you know, race in the country.” All about depression is that objectively you may have won, but depression can absolutely convince you that you actually lost. And that’s exactly what happened. And that was the start of a downward spiral,” he said in the interview, given two days before his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “I had stopped leaving my bed. I had stopped eating. I was losing weight. I had stopped committing to some of the things I love most in my life.

In the interview, the father-of-three described a distressing scene at home. “I had a conversation with my 14-year-old son and he was like, ‘Dad, what’s wrong? … Were good. We’re here. And you won. Incredibly sad moment where my 14 year old son can’t understand why you can’t get out of bed. That’s the day he checked himself into the hospital and missed his son’s birthday party, recalls- he.

In the past, it was considered taboo for politicians to confess to a diagnosis of depression, which affects 21 million adults. Senator Thomas Eagleton, then the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, dropped out of the 1972 race after it was revealed he had been hospitalized with depression. (However, he was re-elected twice more to the Senate, in 1974 and 1980.)

Mr. Fetterman said it took him a while to recognize his own difficulty. At a post-election Democratic retreat, “a lot of my colleagues would come up to me and say, ‘Why aren’t you eating?'” He looked confused as he was sworn in on Jan. 3. and drive,” said neuropsychiatrist David Williamson, who treated the senator.

Mr. Fetterman, as a senator, had access to high-quality care that was not available to everyone. But he deserves credit for leading by example. He did not give in to shame or the stigma of mental illness. Depression is one of the most treatable mental disorders. Hopefully the senator’s leadership will inspire others to deal with it and seek treatment.

If you or someone you know is in trouble or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

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