Skip to content

Menopause Health Center

Antidepressant May Help Ease Hot Flashes

Study Shows Women Taking Lexapro Report Greater Relief From Hot Flashes Than Those on Placebo
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 18, 2011 -- Low doses of the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) cooled off hot flashes better than placebo in about 200 menopausal women, according to a new study.

''We believe escitalopram provides an option for treating moderate to severe hot flashes that are disrupting people's lives and quality of life,"  says study researcher Ellen Freeman, PhD, a research professor in the department of obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

In the study, Freeman found the antidepressant reduced both the number and severity of hot flashes compared to placebo. Previous studies of other antidepressants have yielded mixed results, according to Freeman.

The new study findings suggest Lexapro can provide an option for women reluctant to take hormone therapy.

The findings are published in TheJournal of the American Medical Association.

Antidepressants for Hot Flashes: Lexapro Study

Freeman and colleagues assigned 205 women who were experiencing hot flashes either to a group which took 10 to 20 milligrams a day of Lexapro or a placebo for eight weeks.

The women, on average about age 54, did not know whether they were taking the drug or the placebo. The women were asked to keep daily diaries noting the frequency and severity of their hot flashes.

At the study start, the average frequency of hot flashes was nearly 10 per day.

When Freeman's team looked at the seven-day average of hot flash frequency at week eight in those who kept the daily diaries, they found:

  • Those taking the antidepressant reported 5.26 hot flashes a day, a decline of 47% or about four and 1/2 fewer a day.
  • Those taking the placebo reported 6.43 hot flashes a day, a decline of 33% or about three fewer a day.

The severity of the hot flashes went down more in the Lexapro-treated women than those on placebo. On a 3-point scale, the average overall hot flash severity score at the study start was 2.17. At week eight, those on Lexapro reported an average severity score of 1.63, termed mild to moderate. Those on placebo by week eight had a severity score of 1.89.

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
 
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
senior couple
Video
mature woman shopping for produce
Article
 
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
Article
mature couple on boat
Article
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

mature woman tugging on her loose skin
Slideshow
senior woman wearing green hat
Article
 
mature woman
Article
supplements
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections