Prozac nation : young and depressed in America

by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Paper Book, 1994




Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1994.


Biography & Autobiography. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:Elizabeth Wurtzel's New York Times best-selling memoir, with a new afterword "Sparkling, luminescent prose . . . A powerful portrait of one girl's journey through the purgatory of depression and back." ??New York Times "A book that became a cultural touchstone." ??New Yorker Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger on the faint pulse of an overdiagnosed generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. Her famous memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation is a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era for readers of Girl, Interrupted and Sylvia Plath's The Bel

Media reviews

The book became a cultural reference point and part of a new wave of confessional writing.
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By the end of "Prozac Nation," one is less apt to remember Ms. Wurtzel's self-important whining than her forthrightness, her humor and her ability to write sparkling, luminescent prose.

User reviews

LibraryThing member colleenharker
I'm not quite halfway through this book and it is KILLING ME!!! Maybe it's just because I've never really dealt with depression, but all of her whining about how hard her life is and how black the vacant place where her soul should be and how much more depressed she is than anyone else and how no
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one understands her... Blah blah blah. Ugh. This line, page fifty something, pretty much sums it up for me at this point in the "story.""Nothing about my life seemed worthy of art or literature or even of just plain life. It seemed too stupid, too girlish, too middle-class."Amen, sista. If you'd just kept that attitude I wouldn't be stuck finishing your horribly boring book. And yet I plod on...UPDATE:Finally, done. The last fifty pages almost made it worth reading. Once she finally gets help and starts to talk about how prozac has saturated our society (what I was expecting the book to be about in the first place), it actually got interesting. Incidentally, she admits (in the epilogue, I think) that her story is self-indulgent and even often annoying. She gets a little judgmental about the overuse of prozac (what, only she is allowed to REALLY be depressed?), but I found myself at least partially agreeing with her. Anyway, I don't know that I would recommend this one to just anyone, but if you're interested in depression and have a high tolerance for a "woe-is-me" teenagerish voice, it wasn't completely unreadable.
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LibraryThing member Brianna_H
Reading Prozac Nation is like watching a car crash that you just can't stop staring at. At times Wurtzel becomes quite tiresome and annoying in trying to tell you just how smart, well-read, socially conscious, and knowledgeable about music she is. Despite this, Prozac Nation is a great memoir and
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an addictive read.
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LibraryThing member Angelic55blonde
I really loved this book. She was struggling through a debilitating disease (depression) during a time when it was not really recognized as a mental illness that needed treatment. She goes through all this at a very young age and survives. Her problems (crying fits, etc) may sound self-involved but
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she was battling a disease that pulled her down into a dark depth where it is impossible to see the good/positive in anything. I give her props for having the courage to write this book when there are many people out there who still don't understand what depression does to a person and how horrible it is (ie. they say "why don't you just get over it?"). A must read for anyone and everyone.
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LibraryThing member DoubleL
i thought it was going to be more of a social commentary than it was and i think wurtzel wanted it to be more broad but really it's a very bleak picture of her own personal struggle with depression. i think it could have been structured better. like all other wurtzel i've read, the intent is good
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but the follow through is sloppy and a little too whiney.
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LibraryThing member lahochstetler
This is one woman's memoir of severe depression, dating from her teenage years though young adulthood in the days before prozac. Elizabeth Wurtzel was a young, talented, and deeply depressed student and writer in the 1980s. This is a memoir with little happiness and hope, much like depression
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itself. In order to cope with the pain Wurtzel drowns her sorrow in drugs, alcohol, and sex. She acts out in inappropriate ways. There's no nice ending, at least until the epilogue. Wurtzel's memoir shows how hard and despeate depression can be.

Elizabeth Wurtzel is clearly a very smart woman and a talented writer. That said, the most difficult part of this book to stomach is not the gut-wrenching descriptions of major depression, but rather, Wurtzel's refusal to recognize the significant socio-economic advantages she has had. Most significant of these are her Harvard education and her plum writing internships. The issue is not that she "should have been happy because she had so much," rather, its the fact that Wurtzel paints herself as a disadvantaged young woman, which she simply does not appear to be. Presenting herself as something of a child of deprivation simply doesn't work, and the book would have been stronger had it not made such suggestions. Much more interesting is how the culture of high expectations shaped her depression.
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LibraryThing member derfla3101980
This one just left me depressed for like a week. SOMEBODY GIVE THIS BROAD A HUG!!!!
LibraryThing member Borg-mx5
A good first novel. For anyone who has been despressed, you can see a little bit of yourself in the novels protaganist. The search a understanding oneself can actually get in the way of feeling better.
LibraryThing member waxlight
I've read a plethora of books on depression, and on bipolar disfunction, and this book is the one that I see myself in the most. It also helped me come to terms with illness vs. crazy, and to also learn that once I accept the fact I have a chemical imbalance, it's easier to 'talk myself down'.
LibraryThing member heidilove
Pretty good. Though I have to point out that the people i know who are young and depressed in america are the ones who are smart and poor to boot.
LibraryThing member punkeymonkey529
I couldn't finish this book, about halfway through I lost interest in it and didn't pick it up again. I might attempt to read it again sometime, but not for a while. I normally do that with all books I lose interest in I find myself going back to them years later to try them again. I'm not sure why
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LibraryThing member verenka
I read the book on my way from Madrid to Seville and I had to stop and listen to music instead because it was getting me down so much. In the end fascination was stronger though and I finished the book during my last day of my holiday, back in Barcelona.

I'm relieved I don't suffer from atypical
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depression. Reading about her battle makes me wonder if I'd be strong enough.
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LibraryThing member dracopet
Great subject, great prose, important book of our time, etc., but MY GOD will you get sick of listening to this woman. I mean, it's a very accurate description of what it's like to be very very depressed, but there's a reason depressed people aren't exactly social butteflies and it's because they
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never stop talking about how bummed out they are. And this is 384 pages of Elizabeth Wurtzel crashing and burning and then crying about it for about seven hours.
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LibraryThing member readaholic12
Very early in my life it was too late, quoted from The Lover, begins this memoir. Ditto. I could not finish this book, that much was clear early on. I have some experience with depression, and thought this would be an interesting or insightful read. I was wrong. I could not get involved with the
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story, or care deeply enough for the writer to continue on, I just found it whiny and depressing and frustrating. I skimmed through, hoping for a hook, but in the end, decided this book was not for me. Best to quit than continue to judge. Unrated, unfinished and off my tbr pile.
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LibraryThing member kymmayfield
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel was way to depressing, I have depression so i figured i might be able to identify with her in this book but ohhhhhhhhhh no she is way to down for me. I had to pull myself to the end of the book. I would never read it again.
LibraryThing member tripleAgirl
Prozac Nation came into my life at a time when I could identify a bit too closely with Elizabeth Wurtzel in terms of being a bright young student who just didn't seem to fit in anywhere. While it was depressing overall, I found comfort in the assurance that for every stupid thing I ever did because
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I felt rotten, most of the things she had done were a lot worse. Definitely worth reading if you're having one of those years.
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LibraryThing member EmScape
I thought that this book dragged quite a lot in the middle...I got rather bored of reading about how terrible everything was for her, especially since I didn't have half the amazing opportunities that she had. However, the narrative redeemed itself by offering such an honest, inside view of how
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depression really feels. I believe I know better how to behave towards friends and clients who suffer from depression after having read this book.
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LibraryThing member naiveprophet
I honestly could not even get through this book. It was too full of needless angst. I tried watching the movie later. It did nothing to improve my feelings towards the book.
LibraryThing member vampyredhead
One of the best books about depression ever written. It is so beautifully, poetically written. It touches the soul of your being.
LibraryThing member joyfiction
I LOVED this book. I've read it several times and loaned it to others. One of the most enjoyable books I read in my high school years.
LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
When a book takes me nearly a year to finish, it's definitely a sign that I'm having some issues with the narrative. One LibraryThing reviewer began a critique by declaring, "You need to take Prozac to read this book!" I can relate. I wish Wurtzel's Afterword had been the Preface/Foreword, because
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some of her reflections would have been helpful as I trudged through the book. For example, she notes that some readers have talked about how "Prozac Nation" could be a frustrating read. But she quickly notes that this how many depressives feel in their everyday lives. In her parting words, she describes her book as a "memoir with no particular thesis or point," adding that she wanted the book "to dare to be completely self-indulgent, unhesitant and forthright in its telling of what clinical depression feels like." These admissions and observations — shared at the very start — would have helped me to navigate this worthy but somewhat exhausting book. Having said that, I found many aspects of "Prozac Nation" fascinating and instructive. My late mom suffered from severe depression her entire life. Unfortunately, it went undiagnosed — or atleast untreated — until she was in her early 40s. Had I been Wurtzel's editor, I would have trimmed down the narrative a bit, eliminating some redundancies and unneccessary details. But as it turns out, this is one of the author's goals — to vividly illustrate some of the utterly frustrating aspects of this crippling disease.
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LibraryThing member Jennifyr
I read this book in high school as I was suffering from severe depression. and I believe it saved me in a lot of ways. The writing is beautiful and truly captures the many aspects of depression. I have read and re-read this book many times. Critics may say that Elizabeth Wurtzel comes off as
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selfish and whiny, and while there are parts of the book where you want to shake her and make her see all that she has going for her, for anyone that has gone through the darkness of depression, it only makes the book more accurate. Depression causes this dark tunnel, this rain cloud, that makes it impossible to see outside your own mind. Someone I knew worked at a coffee shop on the Yale campus where Wurtzel used to go for coffee and I was so disappointed that I never got to shake her hand and let her know how much she has helped me, just for letting me know that I was not alone.
I'm not sure that anyone who has never suffered from depression, or who has been close to anyone who has suffered from depression will enjoy this, but it is an excellent insight into the world of depression and mental illness.
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LibraryThing member divinewhiteshoulders
Another book I love to bits.
LibraryThing member carlahaunted
Reading this book, I kept thinking that her symptoms seemed to reflect bipolar disorder, perhaps complicated by BPD, rather than a depressive disorder. The chaos, the neediness, the need for others to prove their love, and, most telling, others' responses to her behavior spoke to me as BPD...which
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would allow explain other readers' irritation/revulsion.
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LibraryThing member wellreadcatlady
This is one of those books that when you read at the right time in your life the feeling is indescribable.
LibraryThing member Rob.Larson
Keep in mind that the author writes from the perspective of her (extremely) depressed state, not in justification of any of the subsequent behaviors. This author loves big words, but aside from that I found it to be very candid and enlightening, albeit depressing at times (but can that be avoided
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in such a work as this?). I would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject, but it is not a light read. Loses one star for being too wordy at times.
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