Cover image for Prozac nation : young and depressed in America
Prozac nation : young and depressed in America
Wurtzel, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Riverhead Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 368 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Boson: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
Reading Level:
1320 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC High School 12 29 Quiz: 09395 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC537 .W87 1995C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"A book that became a cultural touchstone." -- The New Yorker

Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger in the faint pulse of an overdiagnosed generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. In this 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 Bell Jar .

Author Notes

Elizabeth Wurtzel is the bestselling author of Prozac Nation and Bitch. After graduating from Harvard College, she was the popular music critic for The New Yorker and New York magazine. Her articles have also appeared in Glamour, Mademoiselle, Mirabella, Seventeen, and the Oxford American. She lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From toddlerhood on, Wurtzel was recognized as bright and gifted. What people didn't know was that by the time she was 11, she was depressed, first overdosing while a kid at summer camp. Her description of life as a depressive is so precise, so filled with the horror, the tedium, and, yes, even the funny moments she experienced on her spiral downward that readers will feel like they're being taken down with her. The title, Prozac Nation, is Wurtzel's term for her generation's collective bad mood. It's a resonant concept, but the notion that Generation X'ers are uniquely susceptible to depressive illnesses does not really take into account the Valium generation and the Miltown generation before that. On the other hand, what does make today's young depressives different from their predecessors is the availability of Prozac and other drugs of its ilk, which work on the brain in new ways and are considered almost miraculous by many who take them. (Wurtzel herself, though skeptical about the drug's long-term effects, is convinced it saved her life.) While the agonizing descriptions of life in shades of black and blue are intensely moving, it's Wurtzel's last chapter, in which she muses on the effects of Prozac both in medical and philosophical terms, that will really get readers thinking. Like Peter Kramer in Listening to Prozac (1993), Wurtzel questions why six million people have felt the need to take the drug. Why, she asks, has depression, once considered a tragic state of mind, now become an utterly commonplace condition? Are doctors overmedicating their unhappy patients, or should Prozac be handed out even more readily? Is the world, in fact, "too difficult to negotiate without some kind of a chemical buffer zone"? Expect lots of talk about this one as the currently depressed, the formerly depressed, and the soon-to-be depressed debate the nagging question of how to feel better. (Reviewed September 1, 1994)039568093XIlene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Twenty-six-year-old Wurtzel, a former critic of popular music for New York and the New Yorker, recounts in this luridly intimate memoir the 10 years of chronic, debilitating depression that preceded her treatment with Prozac in 1990. After her parents' acrimonious divorce, Wurtzel was raised by her mother on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The onset of puberty, she recalls, also marked the onset of recurrent bouts of acute depression, sending her spiraling into episodes of catatonic despair, masochism and hysterical crying. Here she unsparingly details her therapists, hospitalizations, binges of sex and drug use and the paralyzing spells of depression which afflicted her in high school and as a Harvard undergraduate and culminated in a suicide attempt and ultimate diagnosis of atypical depression, a severe, episodic psychological disorder. The title is misleading, for Wurtzel skimps on sociological analysis and remains too self-involved to justify her contention that depression is endemic to her generation. By turns emotionally powerful and tiresomely solipsistic, her book straddles the line between an absorbing self-portrait and a coy bid for public attention. First serial to Vogue, Esquire and Mouth2Mouth. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

From her first attempted suicide as a 12 year old, Wurtzel records her life as an intellectually gifted but emotionally deprived young woman struggling with clinical depression. She describes her adolescence and her acceptance to Harvard despite a checkered high school career. At the university, she lived constantly on the precipice of a nervous breakdown-and slipped down into the abyss from time to time. Always, she fought back-relying on therapy, drugs (both licit and illicit), friends, and an innate inner strength-and found some salvation in the recognition she received for her writing. Ultimately, treatment with a combination of lithium and prozac allowed her to maintain her stability, but she is unwilling to accept a fate of life-long drug dependence. Graphically written, this book expresses the pain and anger of Wurtzel's unremitting protest against her disability. It will appeal to young readers seeking stories of depression they can relate to. Recommended.-Carol R. Glatt, VA Medical Ctr. Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.