If you live in America, chances are good you’ve heard the term “mental health crisis” bandied about in the media. While true that anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders seem to be on the rise—especially among young people—resources for addressing them remain scarce and stigmatized, and the conditions themselves remain poorly understood. Even doctors and scientists don’t have all the answers. For example, is the development of a mood disorder the product of nature or nurture? Why are more women diagnosed with anxiety and depression than men? And in an industry that pathologizes everything from anger to arrogance, what actually constitutes “normal” human behavior?
In her debut book of nonfiction, Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir
(Mad Creek Books, 2018), author Sarah Fawn Montgomery
explores these questions using both her own experiences and research as dual lenses to understanding mental illness, especially generalized anxiety disorder. From the fraught history of mental illness, to the fascinating science of how anti-depressants work, to a sharp examination of dubious practices within the American pharmaceutical industry, Montgomery takes the reader on a journey into the reality of mental health in the United States from a patient’s perspective, shining a much-needed light on a topic so often shrouded in stigma.
Zoë Bossiere is a doctoral student at Ohio University, where she studies creative nonfiction and teaches writing classes. For more NBn interviews, follow her on Twitter @zoebossiere or head to zoebossiere.com.