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Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Areby Katherine Sharpe
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Drawing on 40 interviews with individuals aged 18 – 40 and an extensive reading of professional and popular articles, former Seed magazine editor Sharpe takes a close look at members of her generation who came of age with new antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft. Sharpe herself used such drugs after a mini-breakdown in college and says they made her feel 'dull and flattened in one way...revoltingly attuned in another.' Sharpe is excellent at detailing the positives and negatives of these drugs: they can relieve depression, and patients can learn to turn the drug from a crutch into a 'tool,' controlling it rather than letting it control them. But the drugs can also promote 'a kind of emotional illiteracy, 'prevent me from asking or noticing the reasons I felt bad....' She is also good on the importance of exercise, sleep, and diet on alleviating depression. But she is best at probing broader societal issues. In an age so focused on mental health, psychologist David Ramirez tells Sharpe, 'there's almost not a language of normal distress.' 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. Agent: Eva Talmadge, Emma Sweeney Agency. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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." Kirkus Reviews
"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
"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." Elle
A compelling and troubling exploration of a generation raised on antidepressants, and a book that combines expansive interviews with substantive research-based reporting, Coming of Age on Zoloft is a vitally important and immediately engrossing study of one of America's most pressing and omnipresent issues: our growing reliance on prescription drugs. Katherine Sharpe, the former editor of Seed magazine's ScienceBlogs.com, addresses the questions that millions of young men and women are struggling with. "Where does my personality end and my prescription begin?" "Do I have a disease?" "Can I get better on my own?" Combining stout scientific acumen with first-person experience gained through her own struggle with antidepressants, Sharpe leads the reader through a complex subject, a guide towards a clearer future for all.
About the Author
Katherine Sharpe's writing has appeared in n+1, GOOD, and Washington Post magazine, among many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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