Prozac Nation and Major Depression Disorder
Raquel H. Sasyn
University of Houston
Ms. Chastity Farr
Section - 25673
April 23, 2010
“Prozac Nation,” is a best-selling memoir written by Elizabeth Wurtzel in 1994. Based on Wurtzel’s stormy childhood and adolescence, Prozac Nation explores many topics such as major depression, family relations, and drug abuse. The story narrates Wurtzel’s life from age 11 to her senior year at Harvard University. Throughout this time, she continuously battles major depressive episodes, suicide ideations, and maladaptive human relations (New York University, 2010). Overall, the book provides an excellent example of chronic depression and its consequences. In 2001, the book was adapted into a movie. The movie, starring then new actress, Christina Ricci, clearly illustrates the original book’s main idea’s (Prozac Nation, 2001). The movie also shines with excellent theatrical performances and a well-adapted screenplay. This report will discuss the effects of major depression on Wurtzel’s life as illustrated in “Prozac Nation,” the movie. Furthermore, the development of Wurtzel’s depression will be analyzed in detail. Lastly, treatment options for major depression will be included.
Even viewers without much knowledge in psychology can quickly realize that Wurtzel suffers from depression. During her college career at Harvard, she experiences a very severe depressive episode, brought on by writer’s block. Wurtzel is quite disabled by this episode, and cannot function either socially or academically (Prozac Nation, 2001). According to DSM-IV-TR, Wurtzel meets more than the five criteria required for the diagnosis of major depressive episode (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). She has a depressive episode nearly every day, sleep deprivation, and experiences anhedonia. Furthermore, she displays an inability to concentrate, as she can neither attend class nor write successfully. Another noteworthy point to consider is that Wurtzel’s friends notice her psychomotor retardation and force her to seek psychological help (Prozac Nation, 2001). Therefore, the psychological symptoms portrayed in Prozac Nation point to unequivocal major depression. Given the fact that Wurtzel has suffered from depressive episodes throughout her adolescence and young adulthood, the diagnosis of major depressive disorder is appropriate.
II. Psychological Paradigms
The development of Wurtzel’s psychological problems can be examined from different angles. In the movie, Wurtzel’s mother is portrayed as a strong supporter and a provider. However, a closer examination of Wurtzel’s mother proves that she suffers from outbursts of rage and mood swings (Prozac Nation, 2001). It is quite possible that Wurtzel’s mother also has a mood disorder. There is increasing evidence that depression has familial association. One research result showed that adolescents with a depressive parent were eight times more likely to have major depression compared to the general population (Wagner, 2003). Therefore, Wurtzel’s chronic depression could very well have a genetic component.
Wurtzel’s psychodynamic environment during childhood may have also contributed to the development of her depression. Wurtzel’s parents are divorced, and she is caught in the middle of negative parental conflict throughout her childhood. In order to deal with her stress, Wurtzel resorts to maladaptive behaviors like self-mutilation (Prozac Nation, 2001). Feelings of isolation and interpersonal conflict sometimes lead adolescents to self-injury. Self-injury is one of the fastest-growing behavioral problems in teenagers (Alfonso and Dedrick, 2010). Wurtzel’s ambivalent relationship with her father also forms a basis for her psychological problems. Although Wurtzel misses and loves her father, his actions...