Hot Flash: What Is A Girl To Do?

Antidepressant therapy is an alternative to hormone therapy for menopause

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Hot flashes or power surges are bothersome and sometimes embarrassing no matter which name you call them by. Flushed skin, rivers of perspiration, and increased heat (not only in the kitchen) are menopausal symptoms that disrupt many women’s lives.

And while hormone replacement therapy is not safe for all women, there is hope on the horizon in the form of antidepressants.

"Antidepressants reduce hot flashes in 50% of women."

Ellen Freeman, a research professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, reports that hormone treatment is the usual treatment for hot flashes because it is effective. However, because of the risks involved for many women, Freeman and her team set off in a different direction and discovered that antidepressants may offer relief to bothersome hot flashes.

Freeman and her team found that after eight weeks of taking Lexapro, female study participants had fewer hot flashes per day as compared to women on the placebo. 

Fifty-five percent of the women in the Lexapro group reported at least a 50 percent reduction in the frequency of their hot flashes. The hot flashes remaining were less severe as well.

The Study

  • Researchers studied 205 women between the ages of 40 and 62 who were either beginning menopause or who had finished the menopause transition in the past year
  • The women were required to experience at least 28 hot flashes per week as that would classify them in the  bothersome or severe category
  • Most women had nearly 10 hot flashes a day at the start of the study
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of depression, but doctors sometimes prescribe them for "off-label" (non FDA-approved) uses, such as for treating pain or -- as in the study -- for the relief of hot flashes. SSRIs include drugs such as Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft.

This remedy for hot flashes could mean that when “mama is happy, everyone is happy.” 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 14, 2011
Last Updated:
April 28, 2011