Review: Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel


Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger in the faint pulse of a generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. A memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation is a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era.

This is an indulgent and brutal account of Wurtzel’s life and her troubled mind and her dealings with mental illness. It makes for fascinating reading not only because of the portrayal of clinical depression but also because of the author’s own personality. As a sufferer of clinical depression even I found it difficult to sympathise with her even as she articulated beautifully how depression can feel.

That’s the thing I want to make clear about depression: It’s got nothing at all to do with life. In the course of life, there is sadness and pain and sorrow, all of which, in their right time and season, are normal—unpleasant, but normal. Depression is an altogether different zone because it involves a complete absence: absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest. The pain you feel in the course of a major clinical depression is an attempt on nature’s part (nature, after all, abhors a vacuum) to fill up the empty space. But for all intents and purposes, the deeply depressed are just the walking, waking dead

She did come across sometimes mean and selfish but I still connected with her because I felt like she knew that. It also is one of the most honest aspects of the book which I admire her for writing. Severely depressed people can act selfish and act differently from how they usually are. However, her actions sometimes portray manipulation not effects of her illness. She calls her therapist throughout the night, claims if she does not listen to her she will kill herself and admits a few times that she is addicted to her own depression.

The ending was the one part I could not possibly believe. The author suddenly got better after having an epiphany. I felt like she had been told to stick a happy or hopeful ending on the end to get that and it gave a jarring ending to the book.

If you have gone through something like what the quote describes above then I recommend you read this book. Reading it made me realise further that the depression was not a weakness of mine but an actual illness. However if you want a complete truthful account of clinical depression I would suggest looking elsewhere.


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