Coming of Age on Zoloft
How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Are
By Katherine Sharpe
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780062059734, 336pp.)
Publication Date: June 2012
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When Katherine Sharpe arrived at her college health center with an age-old complaint, a bad case of homesickness, she received a thoroughly modern response: a twenty-minute appointment and a prescription for Zoloft—a drug she would take for the next ten years. This outcome, once unlikely, is now alarmingly common. Twenty-five years after Prozac entered the marketplace, 10 percent of Americans over the age of six use an SSRI antidepressant.
In Coming of Age on Zoloft, Sharpe blends deeply personal writing, thoughtful interviews, and historical context to achieve an unprecedented portrait of the antidepressant generation. She explores questions of identity that arise for people who start medication before they have an adult sense of self. She asks why some individuals find a diagnosis of depression reassuring, while others are threatened by it. She presents, in young people's own words, their intimate and complicated relationships with their medication. And she weighs the cultural implications of America's biomedical approach to moods.
KATHERINE SHARPE's writing has appeared in n+1, GOOD, and Washington Post Magazine, among many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Intuitive and investigative, personal and historical, narrative-rich and fact-packed….Part of what makes this book riveting is the way Sharpe sets her own story within the larger context of cultural, social, and psychiatric changes that moved depression (along with other mental illnesses) into the medical spotlight.”
“Sharpe is excellent at detailing the positives and negatives of these drugs … But she is best at probing broader societal issues … This is a fine book that nicely weaves together personal, sociological, and philosophical perspectives for a thoughtful view of how antidepressants are shaping many people’s lives.”
“A knowing account of what it is like to grow up on psychiatric medications....Balanced and informative--an education for any parent considering psychiatric medication for a troubled adolescent.”
“Beautifully written. . . . This is a book for anyone taking or thinking about taking antidepressants, anyone who prescribes them, anyone who wonders about their suitability-or anyone who wants a mirror held up to our time.”
-Dr. David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac
“A fascinating look at how drugs and trends have shaped the identities of individuals and of a generation-provocative without being sensationalistic, skillfully written, and totally necessary.”
-Emily Gould, author And the Heart Says Whatever