Media Availability: NIH-supported trial finds antidepressant relieves hot flashes

January 18, 2011

Karin Kolsky | (301) 496-1752 |

WHAT: A randomized clinical trial supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) significantly reduced the number and severity of hot flashes eight weeks after beginning treatment. In this trial comparing escitalopram to placebo, the treatment group experienced a 47 percent decrease in daily hot flashes, while the placebo group had a 33 percent decrease. Reductions in severity and bothersomeness of hot flashes were also reported by the treatment group. Participants included equal numbers of white and African American women.

The study is the first result from the MsFLASH initiative, begun in 2008. Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health (MsFLASH)—is funded primarily by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), with other components of NIH. The national, multicenter study is testing a variety of treatments for the often debilitating symptoms which can affect up to 75 percent of women in the menopause transition.

ARTICLE: Freeman, E.W., et al., Efficacy of Escitalopram for Hot Flashes in Healthy Menopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of the American Medical Association, (2011); 305(3): 267–274.

SPOKESPERSON: Sherry Sherman, Ph.D., NIA Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, is available to discuss the article.

CONTACT: To schedule interviews, contact the NIA Office of Communications and Public Liaison, (301) 496-1752,

SUPPORT: The MsFLASH network is supported by the NIA in collaboration with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Office of Research on Women’s Health, all parts of the NIH. The randomized controlled trial took place at four centers in the MsFLASH network—Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Indiana University, Indianapolis; Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, Calif.; and University of Pennsylvania.

The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well being of older people. For more on health and on aging generally, go to or call 1-800-222-2225 (toll-free). At the site, readers also can sign up for e-mail alerts about new findings or publications.

The NIH—The Nation’s Medical Research Agency—includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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