Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Title: Prozac Nation
Author: Elizabeth Wurtzel

This book has been on my reading list for years - probably since early undergrad at least, and I have finally gotten around to reading it.

It is the true story of a severely depressed young woman, who, in the deepest moments of depression, doesn't get out of bed for days, doesn't shower for weeks, is committed to hospitals, and so much more that epitomizes deep-seated depression.

She blames her parents' divorce when she was very young for much of her depression. Not really the divorce so much as the ensuing battles afterwards. At times her psychologists and psychiatrists contact her father, who has excellent health care benefits, to tell him that Elizabeth is in desperate need of therapy and if he would pay for it, she'd surely have a chance of getting better. Even then, despite the fact that his insurance would cover 90% of the cost, he refuses repeatedly on the grounds that it's her mother's job to pay that cost. Her mother does not have good health care, nor often a full time job.

His daughter is sick and suicidal and it's still a war between the parents.

Divorce is awful and all, but far worse is a situation in which the child is put in the middle, in which the child is made to go from parent to parent trying to solve things, in which the child's needs are not put before the parents' needs. This book very clearly shows the effects that situation can have.

Also very interesting in this book is the very end - Prozac has come out and Elizabeth has finally been given a prescription after more than a decade of battling severe depression. She writes of the overabundance of Prozac prescriptions that shot up not long after, often given out by doctors who spent less than 3 minutes talking to patients before writing the prescription. She addresses the trivialization of depression and the drugs used to treat it. It becomes so commonplace. At one point she learned that 6 million Americans had taken Prozac. If I had to sum up her feelings about the drug, it's that for far too many, Prozac has become the first treatment method, instead of a last resort as it was for her.

This was a decade ago, but what about today? Are we still taking Prozac or other antidepressants too quickly, too lightly, too easily? It's a good question. I wonder what today's statistics show about the number of people on some form of antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.


posted by Kate at 10:36 AM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Not to sound too self-righteous and critical, but in answer to your question: HELL YES.

I don't know, but I suspect, that at least some (certainly not all) cases of depression could be solved by people simply getting outside and exercising. And eating right. And not working themselves all hours of the day and night. And not spending all their days before the television or computer. Among other things...

Although that dad does sound like a right royal ass.

I've been meaning to read this as well. Might do so soon.

5/02/2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

The author also feels that Prozac is being over-prescribed for depressive periods that are a natural part of the ups and downs of life. While I can understand the desire for a quick fix of the problem, it seems to me that it would be better to learn to fix it on your own and avoid a reliance on drugs.

Also, a warning if you intend to read this book: I am not a depressed person. In fact, I'm probably annoyingly upbeat most of the time. However, this book did depress me at times, so I suggest reading it during the day in bright sunlight while drinking your favorite beverage and munching on, in your case Elizabeth, chocolate chip cookies. :)

5/03/2007 7:36 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

And honestly, what's wrong with being blue for awhile? There is a level where it becomes dangerous and needs to be addressed, but the more mild sloughs of life can make us appreciate the highs better. It's called living!

And excellent advice! I think I'm going to add brownies, raspberries, and Orangina to the menu : ).

[Now I definitely want to read this book, just so I have an excuse to splurge on junk food!]

5/03/2007 9:57 PM  
Blogger reyn said...

If you need a reason to binge on junk food (and for the record, raspeberries only count if they're hopelessly mired in the middle of a torte), there's always "I felt like it" or "Saturday," and then you don't need to bum yourself out with a book!

5/04/2007 6:07 AM  

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