In Brief: Antidepressant may help ease hot flashes

When the Women's Health Initiative concluded in 2004 that hormone therapy increased the risk of stroke and other health problems, millions of women abandoned estrogen pills. Unfortunately, women bedeviled by menopause-related hot flashes were left with few treatment options. No other drugs have FDA approval for the treatment of hot flashes, and studies testing the effectiveness of alternative therapies have been disappointing.

Researchers have begun to examine the use of antidepressants to ease hot flashes, but studies have had mixed results. Some participants had medical or psychiatric problems, making it difficult for researchers to tease out the effect of the drug on hot flashes. Also, different antidepressants — and varied definitions and measures of hot flashes — were used.

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