OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the variable response of women when treated with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (sertraline) to decrease hot flashes. DESIGN: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial was conducted in 102 women aged 40 to 65 years who were experiencing hot flashes and not taking any hormone therapy. The original purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of sertraline for the treatment of hot flashes. After 1 week of baseline hot flash data collection, study participants were randomized to receive placebo or active drug (sertraline 50 mg) for 4 weeks. This intervention was followed by a 1-week washout and crossover to the opposite treatment for 4 weeks. The number and severity of hot flashes were measured. RESULTS: One hundred two women were enrolled in the study, and 87 completed the study. The average response was a statistically significant but clinically modest reduction in hot flash frequency and hot flash index (frequency x severity). These data on the average response have been previously published. Although the average response was modest, some women responded vigorously, others modestly, and some women actually worsened. This is a post hoc analysis of those data. Percentage of change was divided into three categories of clinical response: women with a clinically significant reduction (≥30%, n = 27), women with a nonsignificant reduction (<30% to none, n = 28), and women with an increase (1%-100%, n = 32). A vigorous response to sertraline for the treatment of hot flashes was related to activity level, education, and menopausal status. CONCLUSIONS: Women have markedly variable responses when treated with antidepressants for their hot flashes. We have begun to describe the characteristics of those most likely to respond to treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
- Hot flashes
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
- Variable response
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology