Study backs SSRI use for hot flushes

OFF-LABEL use of escitalopram may be a useful nonhormonal option for women experiencing menopausal hot flushes, researchers say.

A US study of more than 200 women found the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor halved the frequency of flushes in 55% of women and reduced the severity by 24% over eight weeks of treatment.

In the placebo group, 36% of women also reported a halving in the frequency of hot flushes, a finding similar to previous antidepressant studies.

“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,” the authors said.

Australian experts said SSRIs could be a viable alternative to hormone replacement therapy.

Australasian Menopause Society president Dr Elizabeth Farrell said antidepressants for hot flushes were mainly used for premenopausal women who