Prozac Nation Fails as Mental Health Memoir

Annie Fields

Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel, is a memoir meant to highlight atypical depression in the 1990’s when antidepressants like Prozac, were just beginning to come to popularity. While living in a culture with an abundance of antidepressants, it is important to educate ourselves and gain a better understanding of what it was like when these drugs were just coming to the market. However, Prozac Nation was not able to accomplish this task.

Overall, I found the book Prozac Nation to be a fine read, but not impactful or memorable enough to be regarded as a classic or even as an important memoir in the realm of mental illness. 

Considering Prozac Nation was Wurtzel’s first book I believe she had no business writing a memoir. She needed to be more established as a writer before making a “woe is me” story. The decision to make Prozac Nation a memoir made Wurtzel seem arrogant and self-pitying. Her arrogance is demonstrated from a young age. Wurtzel recounts a story of being at summer camp and forcing all the girls in her cabin to listen to music she likes, getting upset when they didn’t enjoy it and getting even more enraged when they did like it. She believed that they could never understand artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and The Velvet Underground like she could. Her self-pity is most clearly displayed in her voice throughout the book and in its epilogue and afterword. 

Wurtzel’s afterword in the newest edition of Prozac Nation in particular, made the author seem utterly self-absorbed, bragging about the courage she had to write a memoir, and comparing her importance to that of Kurt Cobain. She concluded her 2017 afterword by saying, “Sadly, Kurt Cobain will never get that far. Everyday I thank God that I did.” 

Another issue with this book was its painful redundancy. While this repetition could be rendered a stylistic device meant to demonstrate Wurtzel’s atypical depression, I ultimately believe that the book could’ve still highlighted symptoms of depression without becoming a chore to get through.

It seemed as though Wurtzel was never growing or coming to any meaningful conclusions, but rather redundantly restating claims she had already made. When potentially impactful claims were made, they felt forced and rushed. 

Overall, I can’t say that I would recommend this book. With a plethora of mental health

memoirs on the market, I don’t believe Prozac Nation has what it takes to stand out in the crowd.