12:15am Wednesday 27 May 2020

New Study from Penn Medicine: Antidepressant Use Reduced Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women

“Our findings suggest that among healthy women who were not depressed or anxious, a 10 to 20 milligram dose of escitalopram – which is well below the dosage level for psychiatric use – provides a nonhormonal, off-label option that is effective and well-tolerated in the management of menopausal hot flashes,” said Ellen W. Freeman, PhD, Penn research professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and principal investigator of the national, multi-site study.

At the end of the study after eight weeks, participants showed a significant decrease in hot flash frequency and intensity in the escitalopram group compared to the placebo group – 55 percent vs. 36 percent. The three-week study participant follow-up also showed that hot flashes increased after cessation of escitalopram but not after cessation of placebo, further proving the drug’s effectiveness. Dr. Freeman and her colleagues note that while the reduction in hot flash frequency and severity seem modest, the study participants perceived these improvements as “meaningful,” greatly improving their quality of life and reinforcing their desire to continue the treatment.

Hormone replacement therapy has been the predominant treatment for menopausal hot flashes. Its use has greatly decreased, however, since the Women’s Health Initiative Estrogen plus Progestin randomized controlled trial identified health risks – primarily the increase in risk of heart disease. Despite this, no other treatments for menopausal hot flashes have FDA approval. And while selective serotonin and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs and SNRIs) have been investigated to treat hot flashes, the previous studies were pilot investigations, conducted only on small samples and in unblinded trials.

For more details about the study results and multimedia content, please visit:  http://www.digitalnewsrelease.com/?q=jama_3773



Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4 billion enterprise. 

Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report‘s survey of research-oriented medical schools and among the top 10 schools for primary care. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $507.6 million awarded in the 2010 fiscal year. 

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2010, Penn Medicine provided $788 million to benefit our community.

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