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Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America

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Full of promise is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in every way. By twelve she was cutting her legs in the girls' bathroom and listening to scratchy recordings of the Velvet Underground. College was marked by a series of breakdowns, suicide attempts, and hospitalizations before she was finally given Prozac in combination with other psychoactive drugs, all of which have worked sporadically as Elizabeth's mood swings ...
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Overview

Full of promise is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in every way. By twelve she was cutting her legs in the girls' bathroom and listening to scratchy recordings of the Velvet Underground. College was marked by a series of breakdowns, suicide attempts, and hospitalizations before she was finally given Prozac in combination with other psychoactive drugs, all of which have worked sporadically as Elizabeth's mood swings rise and fall like the lines of a sad ballad. This memoir, both harrowing and hilarious, gives voice to the high incidence of depression - especially among America's youth. Prozac Nation is a collective cry for help, a generational status report on today's young people, who have come of age fully entrenched in the culture of divorce, economic instability, and AIDS. "This private world of loony bins and weird people which I always felt I occupied and hid in," writes Elizabeth, "had suddenly turned inside out so that it seemed like this was one big Prozac Nation, one big mess of malaise. Perhaps the next time half a million people gather for a protest march on the White House green it will not be for abortion rights or gay liberation, but because we're all so bummed out." Writing with a vengeance Nirvana, Joni Mitchell, and Dorothy Parker all rolled into one, Elizabeth Wurtzel will not go gentle into that good night. She wants off medication, she wants a family, and most definitely, a life worth living.

Painful, poignant, and ultimately triumphant, Prozac Nation is Elizabeth Wurtzel's catharsis--a cry of rage at the chronic depression which has dominated most of her young life. "A powerful portrait of one girl's journey through the purgatory of depression."--The New York Times.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.
Library Journal
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
Booknews
"Full of promise" is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in school. By age 12, she was cutting her legs with razor blades, and college turned into a series of breakdowns, crises, and a suicide attempt. Not until being prescribed Prozac, in combination with other psychoactive drugs and therapy, was some stability possible for her. Written with spunk and wit, this is an excellent picture of a young woman's struggle with depression and her view of the dire effects our social and cultural milieu has on the young. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Barnes & Noble
A harrowing story of breakdowns, suicide attempts, drug therapy, and an eventual journey back to living, this poignant & often hilarious book gives voice to the high incidence of depression among America's youth. A collective cry for help from a generation who have come of age entrenched in the culture of divorce, economic instability, and AIDS, here is the intensely personal story of a young girl full of promise, whose mood swings have risen & fallen like the lines of a sad ballad.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395680933
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/14/1994
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Wurtzel is the author of bestselling books including Prozac Nation, Bitch, and More, Now, Again. A Harvard and Yale Law School graduate whose work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, New York, The Guardian, and The Oxford American, she lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: I Hate Myself and I Want to Die
1. Full of Promise
2. Secret Life
3. Love Kills
4. Broken
5. Black Wave
6. Happy Pills
7. Drinking in Dallas
8. Space, Time, and Motion
9. Down Deep
10. Blank Girl
11. Good Morning Headache
12. The Accidental Blowjob
13. Woke Up This Morning Afraid I Was Gonna Live
14. Think of Pretty Things
Epilogue: Prozac Nation
Afterword (1995)
Acknowledgments

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 105 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(70)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved the movie, loved the book even more.

    Like a lot of the books that I buy, I tend to watch the movie without even realizing that there is a book first. But after I did watch the movie (that I believe anybody can relate to) and the book was no different. It was absorbing, funny, and insightful all in one. I couldn't help but turn to different chapters and reread them just to experience the feelings again. I fell in love with the characters' personality and their stories, along with the setting and how she's strong even without the normal sense. I definatly recommend this for anybody looking for some insight into the mind of the depressed teenager.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 22, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    prozac nation is amazing!

    THE BEST BOOK IVE EVER READ!!!! prozac nation is uplifting and luminesant prose of elizabeth wurtzels struggle with depression i am only 14, 13 when i read it but i understood it but i wud recoment it for ages 17 on up its an amazing story that everyone can relate to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2008

    Life Changing

    I loved this book. It changed my perspective on my own life and made me think twice about times when I catch myself thinking my life is terrible. I recommend this book for anyone going through a hard time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    go figure....

    Well, you've sure got to hand it to her. A young woman takes her excruciating pain and writes a book that all but transforms her into what she would later term a near 'rock star'. She would later go on to capitalize upon a literary project chronicling her subsequent descent into drug addiction and recovery. She should only remain well enough to maintain enough personal inferno to keep entertaining all us codependents. The publishers will likely keep this esteemed author well kept and fully enabled.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2008

    Amazing

    I love Prozac Nation. I watched the movie first, and then read the book. Elizabeth Wurtzel totally totally captures - so many things. Her writing is very honest. I bought this book thinking it was the Lauren Slater book, Prozac Diary - but I was not disappointed. If you are looking for something to make mental illness, depression, or even growing up, a little more real and less crazy, this is a good book to pick up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2006

    one of my favorite books

    prozac nation is by far one of the best books i've ever read. this book is not about whining or making you feel sorry for the author like i've read in other reviews. it's about someone who has struggled most of their life through depression and addiction and takes the time to take the reader in depth into of every aspect of her life. i read this book a few years ago and it is still one of my favorite books. once you start reading you can't stop. this book itself is a drug. you will be hooked instantly. you will find yourself ignoring phone calls food and sleep to get to the next page. This book should be read by everyone. but i think someone who has experienced depression or addiction at some point in their life will appreciate this book even more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    An interesting read

    Prozac Nation is the story of a girl battling with a life of depression. The book takes the reader through her journey of ups and down. The author starts with the begging of her life and shows how she changed from a bright fun person to a dark depressed girl. She writes about her unhealthy relations ships with her father, mother and boyfriends. While the whole time making the reader wonder if this terrible depression will ever end. I suggest this book to anyone interested in real stories and traumas of young woman. If you enjoyed ¿Go Ask Alice¿ and `The Torn Skirt¿ then ¿Prozac Nation¿ should be next on your list. The author did a great job of drawing the reader in to her illness and explaining it in such a way that you can almost feel the pain. The reader ends up with a better understanding of what depression really is and how much it affects its victims.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2006

    More power to Wurtzel!

    I want to personally thank Wurtzel for being brave enough to put her most personal thoughts on paper for the public to see. I know a lot of people think she's whining because 'all she's been through is a divorce.' But to all of you with TRUE DEPRESSION, you know that it's not circumstances that make you this way, it's BIOCHEMISTRY. So when reviewers try to 'one up' Wurtzel with all of their emotional scars, it's because they are jealous that they aren't published. Just because someone had to go through more, doesn't make them more entitled to mental anguish. Like I said, it's your BRAIN that's the culprit, not your damaging past experiences. Please read the book with a little more insightfulness...then you will see that she says, 'So what?' to her negative experiences and is really trying just to grapple with this brain of hers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2006

    Excellent

    I started reading this book after I saw the movie, and in my opinion it lived up to everything the movie did. It takes you places that anyone with depression can relate to. I really loved this book (and the movie), and recommend it to anyone who wants to read/watch something they can connect with!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2006

    Great Book

    This was a great book. I was glued to the pages. I could never put it down. Her emotions are so real and I felt that I could relate to them. By reading this book I learned that depression is more than just a phase and its deeper than what most people are led to believe. It's eye-opening and worth reading. I recommend it to teen girls in particular.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2006

    Depression of Early Adolescence

    Prozac Nation is the type of book that will touch your heart and change the way you view life. Elizabeth¿s memoir of her adolescence and depression that lasted ten years is inspiring to anyone who reads it. The story is brutally honest and has some vulgar language but if you can handle it you¿ll definitely enjoy it. Elizabeth is a very intelligent and strong woman who grew up ¿emotionally deprived¿ yet through her struggles she came out of her depression with hope and a will to live life to its fullest. I would recommend this book to anyone, depressed or not, especially teenagers because it gives them something to relate to so they don¿t always feel alone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2012

    Overrated.

    After seeing all the positive hype Wurtzel's memoir has received, I was looking forward to an insightful, illuminating look into the lives of the clinically depressed. What I was left with was an account that was at times whiny and self-pitying. I felt Wurtzel was difficult to empathize with, despite my extensive history of depression. The subtitle "Young and Depressed in America" seemed to imply a universality to the prose that it quite simply lacked. I have not seen the movie, but quite frankly would not be terribly interested. I would suggest picking up Girl, Interrupted or The Bell Jar instead.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    stirring the pot

    Wurtzel seems to take a very compelling topic, the prevalent mental blackness of adolescent and teenaged America, and somehow turn it into the greatest narcissism fest seen in a long time. Her troubles, including getting too blitzed out of her mind to attend a birthday party thrown for her by her tense mother, seem too self-created and unimpressive to warrant any kind of sympathy or attention short of 'oh, grow up'.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    quite the reveal

    Didn't see the movie but found the book well written and interesting. I am a widower of an addict who put our family through hell. I wish I knew all the secrets to have prevented this. The kids miss their mom, and I miss my wife. The depressed abuser is not the only victim. Reading this book, I realize similarities in all of us. Some more than others. Note that the chemical imbalance some of us must be suffering is not going to be treated as long as their are bureaucrats claiming addiction is not a disease. Bleak as all this sounds, there is always hope. Till the very end there is always love. Don't stop offering love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Not worth the time, or money.

    Amusing at first but then it becomes a chore to keep reading. Wurtzel seems to be a self centered, spoiled, whiny girl who uses depression and the causes of it, as an excuse for her lack of maturity and common sense. Throughout the book she's busy blaming other for her problems and fails to realize that SHE is the problem, and that her actions and lack of empathy for others is what's driving them away from her.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2005

    Depressed or not, you'll relate to this

    Possibly one of the best pieces of work I've ever read, Elizabeth Wurtzel grabs you and takes you under and forces you to feel what she's going through. An amazing writer she is, and continues to inspire and comfort those going through her situations. You will not look at the world--or your own life--the same after reading this book. It's life changing, but a good change at that. She will leave you wondering and wanting more. I definitely recommend this book to everyone who has some kind of adversity, especially troubled young teens who need an escape and a reassurance of not being alone. You definitely dont feel alone when you read this masterpiece.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2005

    Amazing and brilliant

    Perhaps one of the most brilliant books I've ever read. Things that she say bring an emphiany to you and are absoutely brilliant. A very very very thoughful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    Gruesomely True and Incredible

    The mos incredible book I have read which made me come back for more!!! I'm on her third book right now. I just can't put them down. I would love to meet her!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    Incredible.

    Wurtzel is absolutely amazing. Her work is exactly the pain alot of young is going through right now. Including myself.. I would recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2004

    Stunning

    i can honestly say this book is one of the best books i have ever read, and the ending of Kurt Cobain was awesome, this book is so worth reading. I can also say that anyone who has ever gone through depression, thinks that Wurtzel is talking about you, it is a great book, pick it up and start reading it!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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