John Fetterman Says Social Media Made His Depression Worse: ‘Look What It’s Done to Me’ | Video

The Pennsylvania senator says he’s never noticed anyone who believes “their mental health has been supported by spending any kind of time on social media”

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman told “Meet the Press” anchor Kristen Welker in an interview aired Sunday that, during Christmas 2022, he was unable to get out of bed as he struggled with depression. That’s despite Christmas being one of his favorite holidays and the fact that he had just been voted into office. He was filled with a sense of dread ahead of being sworn into the Senate on Jan. 3, 2023.

“People hear all their lives about, ‘I can’t get out of bed,’ and you can’t understand what that really means … until it happens to you,” Fetterman said. “I was scaring my children, and they were confused. And, of course my wife was concerned, and I think she understands better than the kids did.”

Fetterman begged off of attending Senate orientation and opted to check himself into Walter Reed Medical Center to get treatment for his depression.

“I was walled off. I didn’t have TV, I didn’t have the Internet and I definitely didn’t hop on social media or anything,” Fetterman said of his time in treatment.

His doctors advised him to stay off of social media, as did others.

“Everybody told me to,” Fetterman said, chuckling. “Everybody does. Anybody walking down the corner, I’m sure, would say, ‘Yeah, don’t! Stay off social media.”

He initially felt “desolate” after entering treatment, but gradually managed to be able to get out of bed and engage in treatment.

“I had stayed off of [social media], but I made the mistake to check it out in, I think it was either somewhere in late November or early December of ’22. And then it was like, wow, wow. And it wasn’t the things said, because I assumed that those were, but it was the volume, the volume. Just, like where is this coming from? Where can there be so much of this?”

Fetterman first started feeling symptoms of depression when he started running for the Senate in January 2021, he said. Seeing what people were sharing online made his growing depression worse.

“And it’s like, will this be the rest of my life? Look what it’s done to me, and more importantly, what has this done to my family?” Fetterman said. “My kids are afraid to go back. They left social media behind, and we stopped posting family pictures and things like that. It’s just astonishing that so many people want to take the time to hop online and to say things to a stranger that never did anything to you, especially members of my family.”

When asked explicitly whether social media had a negative impact on his mental health, Fetterman replied, “Oh, yeah. Anybody. It’s an accelerant.”

But he hasn’t left it behind completely.

“Am I back on it? Selectively,” Fetterman said. “Maybe to post something. But I don’t go around like, hey, let me find something really … you know that, yeah, there’s going to be some mean things being said or whatever. I just, I don’t have to verify it myself, I just assume it’s going on.”

The senator then delivered a warning for anyone who uses social media.

“And I would just warn anybody that social media — I’ve never noticed anyone to believe that their mental health has been supported by spending any kind of time on social media. And if they do, I’d love to meet that person, who that is,” Fetterman said, laughing.

The senator also discussed the stroke he suffered in 2022, which included his heart stopping and affected his ability to process language.

“My intellect wasn’t damaged,” Fetterman said.

The stroke contributed to his depression, knowing that his difficulties processing language would make his position in politics more difficult.

“I knew that everything and anything is going to be weaponized by the other side,” Fetterman said.

His depression started to ramp up when it came time for his Senate race debate, knowing how difficult that was going to be following his stroke.

Fetterman said that he’d had thoughts of self-harm while dealing with his own depression.

“If you don’t address it, you run the risk of a very dark conversation with yourself,” Fetterman said. “You have to promise yourself that you must never, ever, ever harm yourself. And if you’re able to make that promise to yourself and to your family and the people that you love, then that allows you to, ‘That’s off, so now I can face the depression and some of these other issues.’”

He also shared stories of multiple friends who’ve died by suicide in the last couple of years.

Now, Fetterman said that he feels great physically. But he still appears to have lingering issues with his language processing.

Watch the full interview in the video above.

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