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