Use of antidepressant drug Escitalopram linked to reduced frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women, says a new study.
Ellen W. Freeman, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and colleagues evaluated the efficacy of escitalopram vs. placebo to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in healthy women, and examined whether race, menopausal status, depressed mood, and anxiety were important modifiers of any observed effect.
The multicenter, 8-week, randomized trial enrolled 205 women between July 2009 and June 2010.
The average frequency of hot flashes at the beginning of the study was 9.8 per day. Escitalopram was associated with a significant reduction in the frequency of hot flashes relative to placebo, adjusted for race, site, and baseline hot flash frequency.
In the escitalopram group, average hot flash frequency at week 8 decreased to 5.26 hot flashes per day. In the placebo group, hot flash frequency decreased to 6.43 hot flashes per day.
Clinical improvement at week 8 was significantly greater in the escitalopram group than in the placebo group. Also, use of escitalopram significantly reduced hot flash severity compared with placebo, adjusted for race, site, and baseline severity.
The researchers noted that although the decreases in hot flash frequency and severity appeared modest, the study participants perceived these improvements as meaningful, as indicated by their reported satisfaction with treatment and desire to continue the treatment.
The findings were reported in the journal JAMA.