Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Antidepressants for Hot Flashes
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs) affect the brain's use of a
neurotransmitter chemical called serotonin, which is
thought to have a role in regulating body heat.
Increased serotonin use by the brain can also improve
perimenopausal mood swings and irritability.
Venlafaxine affects the brain's serotonin and norepinephrine levels. How
it affects hot flashes is not known. Mood may also improve with venlafaxine
Select antidepressants are used to
hot flashes affecting menopausal women. They may
also help with irritability, depression, and moodiness. They can be used before
and after menopause as a symptom treatment alternative to hormones (birth
control pills or
hormone therapy [HT]).
Antidepressant therapy helps many men and women who have hot flashes from cancer treatment. But if you take tamoxifen to treat your cancer, you need to avoid certain antidepressants. Talk to your doctor about what medicines for hot flashes are right for you.
Do not take venlafaxine
Studies have shown that certain
antidepressants may help relieve hot flashes.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Common side effects of these medicines include:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines
and the risk of suicide. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, a person
taking antidepressants should be watched for warning signs of suicide. This is especially important at the beginning
of treatment or when doses are changed.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Never suddenly stop taking antidepressants. The use of any antidepressant should be tapered off slowly and only under the supervision of a doctor. Abruptly stopping antidepressant medicines can cause negative side effects or a relapse of your condition.
For menopause symptoms, these medicines are often prescribed in lower-than-normal doses. This helps limit the side effects of the medicine and makes it easier to stop taking the medicine when you no longer need it.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Burbos N, Morris EP (2011). Menopausal symptoms, search date June 2010. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Freeman EW, et al. (2011). Efficacy of escitalopram for hot flashes
in healthy menopausal women. JAMA, 305(3): 267–274.
Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Postmenopausal hormone therapy. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 749–857. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric MedicineCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Current as ofMarch 12, 2014
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
250 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Contact Concord Hospital
View Quality Data
© 2015 Concord Hospital