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Antidepressant reduces hot flushes

By Christian Duffin

The antidepressant escitalopram reduces the severity and frequency of hot flushes among healthy menopausal women over eight weeks, according to researchers.

A US team conducted a randomised controlled trial involving 205 women, who took either a placebo or 10 or 20mg escitalopram a day for eight weeks.

The women were aged between 40 and 62 years old and were either in the menopause transition or post-menopausal, or had had a hysterectomy, and experienced at least 28 hot flushes or night sweats per week for three weeks.

Women on escitalopram experienced on average 1.4 few hot flushes per day comapred with women on placebo, and reductions in hot flush severity were also significantly greater in the escitalopram group.

Lead researcher Dr Ellen Freeman, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Pennsylvania, said: ‘Although the decreases appear modest, the study participants perceived these improvements as meaningful.’

JAMA. 2011;305(3):267-274

Women on escitalopram experienced fewer hot flushes