Antidepressant Paxil Treats Hot Flashes
Drug Reduces Episodes by Almost Half in Study
Treating Hot Flashes continued...
At week six of treatment, the average number of daily hot flashes was reduced in both the low-dose and the high-dose Paxil CR groups, compared with the placebo group.
Lead researcher Vered Stearns, MD, of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, tells WebMD that the antidepressant is not as effective as HRT but appears more effective than other alternative treatments.
"In my mind, this is the best non-hormonal medication available right now for hot flashes," she says. "For a woman who can't or doesn't want to take estrogen, I would recommend that she start out on a low dose of this drug. Most women know within days if it is going to work for them."
More Remedies for Hot Flashes
Other HRT alternatives for relief of hot flashes include:
- Soy -- Boggs characterizes the data on soy as "very mixed" but says eating soy-based foods seems to be more helpful than taking soy supplements. There is also concern that, like HRT, soy may pose a threat to women with a history of breast cancer.
- Black cohosh -- Again, Boggs says the data are mixed on this herbal remedy. She says the only extensively tested black cohosh-based product is GlaxoSmithKline's Remifemin. Unlike HRT, which works immediately, black cohosh takes up to three months to relieve hot flash symptoms.
- Just breathe -- Boggs says a breathing exercise known as "paced respiration" appears to help some women. "When you feel a hot flash coming on, you start taking really slow, deep breaths," she says. "It's sort of a mind-body thing. It really does seem to make a difference for some women."
- Other antidepressants -- Paxil, Prozac, and Effexor have all been tested for hot flash relief, mostly in women with a history of breast cancer who cannot take HRT. All three drugs have shown some efficacy.
- Other prescription drugs -- The high blood pressure drug Catapres has been shown to modestly reduce hot flashes, but it also may lower normal blood pressure. And the antiseizure and migraine drug Neurontin was found to be very effective in a recently published study, but 20% of the subjects complained of sleepiness and 10% complained of dizziness.