Digital News Report – Menopausal women showed a reduction in quantity and harshness of hot flashes when they took an antidepressant medication called escitalopram. The study results were published in the January 19, 2011 issue of JAMA.
Ellen W. Freeman, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and her colleagues studied 205 women between July 2009 and June 2010 that had menopausal hot flash symptoms. They conducted an 8-week randomized trial with one group receiving the escitalopram antidepressant medication and the other receiving a placebo as a control group. The participants recorded daily hot flash events based on frequency and severity when they occurred.
The researchers found that the average amount of menopausal hot flashes averaged 9.8 per day for these women at the beginning of the study. The escitalopram group at week 8 of the study showed that they averaged 5.26 hot flashes per day which was a 47 percent reduction. The placebo group also saw a reduction in the number of hot flashes to and average of 6.43 per day which was a 33 percent reduction.
Three weeks after the participants stopped taking the escitalopram antidepressant showed an increase of hot flashes where stopping the placebo did not change the numbers. The researchers point out that the hot flash decrease was not a huge drop, but the participants in the study valued the reduction of hot flash menopausal symptoms.
Because of the possible aid in reducing hot flashes the researchers write, “Our findings suggest that among healthy women, 10 to 20 mg/d of escitalopram provides a nonhormonal, off-label option that is effective and well-tolerated in the management of menopausal hot flashes. Further studies are needed to directly compare the relative efficacy of SSRIs and SNRIs with hormone therapy in the treatment of menopause-related hot flashes.”
By Victoria Brown