Antidepressants for hot flashes?

Hot flashes and night sweats are two of the most common symptoms of menopause. Women going through the menopausal transition want relief from these aggravating symptoms. One of the relatively newer treatments offered by conventional medicine is antidepressants.
A group of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is commonly prescribed for menopausal women. Examples include paroxetine (Paxil), venlafaxine (Effexor), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro). These medications allow the neurotransmitter serotonin to activate receptors in the brain that regulate the body temperature.
Worth the Side Effects?
Possible side effects from antidepressants may include:
Headaches
Anxiety
Insomnia
Drowsiness
Loss of appetite
Sexual dysfunction
Weight gain
Fatigue
Depression
Go Natural
Why use antidepressants for hot flashes and night sweats and risk having side effects. I help women going through menopause relieve their symptoms by using herbal supplements such as rhubarb extract and black cohosh. I prescribe bioidentical hormone replacement for women with moderate to severe symptoms, including biest and progesterone.
A diet rich in vegetables, and the use of ground flaxseeds, helps to relieve hot flashes naturally. In addition, regular exercise has been demonstrated in studies to help control hot flashes.
Another supplement I have used is 5 hydroxytryptophan (5htp). This amino acid is used as a precursor by the body to make serotonin. Therefore, one can improve serotonin levels and potentially reduce hot flashes and night sweats. If women experience hot flashes in the evening or during the night (or night sweats), then 100 mg to 200 mg in the evening can be helpful.
Dr. Mark Stengler is a naturopathic medical doctor in private practice at the Stengler Center For Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California.