“How antidepressants cheered us up, let us down, and changed who we are…”
I remember growing up. I had loving parents and a privileged, comfortable upbringing. I often feel a sense of nostalgia for these moments since adolescence changed everything about who I was or who I thought I should be, especially the conflicting ideologies of my sexuality in attendance of an elite Catholic girls college.
Although I always knew I was different, doctors and teachers had words for my behaviour. Depression, anxiety and autophobia which coincided with medications such as Prozac, Xanax, Valium and Zoloft. Extensive research informs us that Depression and suicide rates are four times higher in LGBTQQ young people as they often feel unsupported, isolated, and invisible. We are thrown pills with the means to make the sun shine brighter which is all too common in our generation of the“quick fix” and we are even quicker to believe it.
Coming of Age on Zoloft by Katherine Sharpe is an insightful look at depression and the prescription medications and treatments that surround it today. She questions the trends of these medications, even labelling some ‘vogue’ treatments for battles of everyday life, a generation with a safety blanket out of fear for feeling.
It is a difficult issue in society. The main topic Sharpe focuses on is adolescent brain development when under the influence of prescription medications. Focusing on biochemical drugs Sharpe tackles the issue of would you still be the same person you are today without the effects of medication during development? There is no data for the long term effects of these pills from the early pre-teen stages through to adulthood. Sharp’s quest for the answers throughout her memoir challenge the reader and indirectly the health system to re-evaluate the “help” process when dealing with this delicate issue.
Throughout this journey Sharpe details how antidepressants aided her procession in life however deplores the lack of regulation that was needed through talk therapy. It seems all too often doctors are too quick to throw prescriptions at people suffering emotional and mental illnesses without the follow up sense of counselling for the direction so desperately needed.
Sharpe presents a history of antidepressants as well as direct-to-consumer advertising managed by pharmaceutical companies and the demand for these popular medications. I now cannot help but wonder perhaps who I would have been growing up without medication. Would I be more or less stable? Would my brain have developed to cope with emotionally charged situations better in adulthood? Each individual case is as diverse as the next.
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. Having read this balanced and informative book, it is a must for anyone who has been or knows of someone affected by Depression, antidepressants or who is troubled and in consideration of psychiatric medication.