Elizabeth Wurtzel, ‘Prozac Nation’ Author, Dies at 52

Wurtzel died Tuesday after a long battle with breast cancer

Last Updated: January 7, 2020 @ 9:52 AM

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the seminal 1994 memoir “Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America,” died in a Manhattan hospital on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. She was 52.

Wurtzel announced her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015 and had a double mastectomy, but the cancer eventually metastasized to her brain.

Her husband, Jim Freed, told the Post that the cause of death was “complications from leptomeningeal disease, which occurs when cancer spreads to the cerebrospinal fluid.”

After her diagnosis, Wurtzel became an advocate for BRCA genetic mutation testing, writing in an op-ed for the New York Times: “I could have had a mastectomy with reconstruction and skipped the part where I got cancer. I feel like the biggest idiot for not doing so.”

In 1994 at age 26, Wurtzel won worldwide acclaim for her groundbreaking memoir “Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America.”

Chronicling her battle with depression as an undergraduate at Harvard College and her eventual treatment with the medication Prozac, the book inspired a generation of young people to open up about their own mental health struggles.

The best-seller was later adapted into the 2001 film “Prozac Nation,” starring Christina Ricci.

Wurtzel went on publish “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women” in 1998, and “More, Now, Again” in 2001, which tackled Ritalin addiction but received less positive reviews.

She then turned to law, enrolling at Yale Law School and passing the New York State bar exam in 2010.

Following news of her death on Tuesday, former law school classmate Ronan Farrow paid tribute: “We were both misfits and she was kind and generous and filled spaces that might have otherwise been lonely with her warmth and humor and idiosyncratic voice. She gave a lot to a lot of us.”

Mia Farrow also weighed in online. “Lizzy was a classmate of Ronan at Yale Law- and soon became a friend to our family. She was brilliant, complex, fascinating, fun and kind,” she wrote on Twitter.

Read more tributes below:

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