'Prozac Nation' author Elizabeth Wurtzel dies at 52

'Prozac Nation' author Elizabeth Wurtzel dies at 52
© David Shankbone/Wikipedia

Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of "Prozac Nation," the 1994 memoir detailing her experiences with clinical depression, died in a Manhattan hospital on Tuesday. She was 52 years old.

Wurtzel’s book is widely credited for igniting dialogue about clinical depression at a time when the topic was relatively taboo. In compelling detail, she chronicled her time as a student at Harvard while experiencing depression, drug abuse and sexual liberation. 

She died Tuesday morning of complications with breast cancer, according to The New York Times.


In her signature style of confessional writing, she detailed her experience realizing she had a BRCA mutation in a 2015 opinion article in the Times. The genetic mutation increases one’s chances of developing certain types of cancer. 

Though her books were successful, book reviewers often criticized her tone, sometimes dismissing her as “whiny.” Michiko Kakutani wrote in a New York Times review of “Prozac Nation” that “such self-pitying passages make the reader want to shake the author, and remind her that there are far worse fates than growing up during the 70's in New York and going to Harvard.”

“By the end of ‘Prozac Nation,’ one is less apt to remember Ms. Wurtzel's self-important whining than her forthrightness, her humor and her ability to write sparkling, luminescent prose,” Kakutani added.