Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America Summary
Elizabeth Wurtzel

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Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America Summary

Prozac Nation is an autobiographical account of Elizabeth Wurtzel, an adolescent growing up depressed in New York City. Since her depression is not easily diagnosed and the mental health field is still new and growing, she is not correctly diagnosed until her twenties. This autobiography tracks what happens to Wurtzel and the ways that depression and its symptoms affect her life and her outlook.

As a child, Wurtzel is the ideal child. She is brilliant and accomplishes a number of things before she is twelve, including writing a children's book. She gets straight A's and is seen as a privileged, gifted child. However, as Wurtzel gets older, she starts to act out and have behavioral problems. She experiences more and more depression episodes, although her mother cannot determine why or what to do about the behavior. Wurtzel's parents divorce and the impact of their negativity towards each other affects her and deepens her depression. Her father plays almost no role in her life and even causes problems when it comes time to pay the bills for her therapy.

Wurtzel frequently runs from one location to another with the thought that things will finally be better somewhere else. She moves from New York City to attend college at Harvard. While there, she experiences a huge breakdown and ends up at the college medical facilities. However, she continues to decline. She will leave school and go to Dallas and even England in the hopes that a new geographic surrounding will improve her mental state of mind. For a time, these new locations seem to help, but then she will slip and regress to her former depressed state. Unlike other forms of mental depression, her symptoms do not mirror those of a schizophrenic or manic depressive. For this reason, therapists have a hard time controlling Wurtzel and her mood swings.

Through effective therapists and eventually the use of a new drug called Prozac, Wurtzel finally manages to gain control of her life and experience a normal lifestyle. Prozac can take a few weeks to work and it is during this time that Wurtzel finally attempts her first suicide attempt. Surprisingly, she does this only after she is starting to feel better for the first time in years. She is saved and has a new sense of a love for life that is rewarding to her.

She is then amazed at how the issues of mental depression gain in popularity and the drug of Prozac makes its way into the mainstream of American society. It has had a tremendous impact on society. Through its effectiveness, more and more people start talking about mental illness and depression in particular. As more people are brought into the conversation about mental illness, it becomes more familiar and common for people to diagnose themselves (correctly or not) with the disease.

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