Coming of Age on Zoloft

Coming of Age on Zoloft : How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down,and Changed Who We Are

3.56 (566 ratings by Goodreads)
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Would I have been someone else without this drug? Was I helped by it? Can I survive without it? Like many of her generation, Katherine Sharpe grew up on antidepressants. A serious panic attack in her first semester at college led to a prescription to Zoloft, a drug she would rely upon for the next ten years. Her story is not remarkable - except for its staggering ubiquity. In 2005, antidepressants surpassed blood-pressure medication as the most frequently prescribed class of drugs in the United States. That year, ten percent of the US population took an antidepressant, a figure that has been greater since. But what disturbs Sharpe most is that antidepressants-specifically, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs - are being prescribed to younger and younger patients. Children, adolescents, and teenagers are being robbed of the opportunity to grow up "as themselves," rather than as young people with doctored personalities. What's more, the reasons behind their prescriptions are often vague at best-resulting in a generation of young adults who have grown up dogged by existential doubts and uncertainties about their own personalities and potentials.
In "Coming of Age on Zoloft", Sharpe offers insight and hope for these millions of young men and women struggling to understand their long-term relationships with antidepressants. Sharpe tells the story of the societal and scientific perfect storm that led to the SSRI explosion in the 1990s, delves deeply into her own drug experience, and interviews dozens of her peers about their relationships to SSRIs. Weaving these threads together with intelligence and grace, she creates a nuanced and thorough portrait of her generation's prescription - drug culture - a picture at once deeply troubling and yet ultimately, undeniably hopeful.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 137 x 204 x 21mm | 260g
  • HarperPerennial
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0062059734
  • 9780062059734
  • 387,481

Back cover copy

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.
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Review quote

"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 "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." -- Publishers Weekly "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
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About Katherine Sharpe

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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Rating details

566 ratings
3.56 out of 5 stars
5 19% (110)
4 36% (202)
3 30% (169)
2 12% (66)
1 3% (19)
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