Are you going to hit the “no more periods” zone anytime soon? Are you already dealing with the several discomforts that perimenopausal years bring along? Then you might have experienced the uncomfortable and sudden warmth under your skin and visible red patches over. 

We often fail to recognize the subtle signs of hot flashes that appear regularly and disrupt our day-to-day activities. Without proper knowledge of symptoms and relief methods, we tend to get into severe depression. Here we’ll look into the clinical ways to deal with Hot Flashes and see if we should consider antidepressants as a remedy. Read on.

What Are Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes are an intense feeling of heat underneath your skin, usually in the upper part of the body. The sudden feeling of warmth causes sweating around the face, neck, underarms, and chest. Your skin might turn red, and the feeling persists for a few minutes.

Hot flashes are common in women that are on their way to hit menopause. However, other medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, hormone imbalance, etc., can also trigger hot flashes. The menopause-induced hot flashes follow similar patterns with minor symptomatic changes. But in general, hot flashes end with a rapid decrease in body temperature, causing sudden chills.

Causes and Symptoms

Certainly, menopause is the predominant cause of hot flashes. However, other medical conditions can also trigger such phenomena. To properly understand the causes of hot flashes, you need to study its visible yet subtle symptoms. Here, we’ll focus on some of the many causes and symptoms.

  • Perimenopausal hormone fluctuations.
  • High blood sugar.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Birth control drugs.
  • Unhealthy eating.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Radiation and chemotherapy.

The symptoms include the following.

  • A sudden feeling of heat.
  • Excessive perspiration around face, neck, and chest.
  • Increased heartbeat.
  • Tingling sensation in hands and feet.
  • Cold sweat in hands.
  • Redness of the skin.
  • Mild shivers.
  • Sudden chill right after it ends.

When Should I Seek Treatments for Hot Flashes?

In general, some women can tolerate the symptoms of hot flashes that appear in regular intervals. But it also has its level of intensity that varies from woman to woman. If you can bear with the symptoms, then there is no need to get into medication. 

If you find hot flashes symptoms unmanageable and start interfering with your daily activities, you must seek professional help. Several treatment methods help you find relief from hot flashes.

Treatment of Hot Flashes 

Hot flashes don’t have a permanent cure. But you can find relief and lower the intensity of the symptoms with a few lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, and antidepressant medication.

  • Lifestyle Changes to Treat Hot Flashes

Many women learn to manage symptoms of hot flashes with lifestyle changes. But, before finding a remedy, you should first know what triggers them. One of the easy ways to figure out is to keep a book or a journal of symptoms. Try to note the subsequent events, like what food you ate just before getting a hot flash. So here we list down some lifestyle changes to help you treat the symptoms of hot flashes.

  • Avoid eating spicy foods.
  • Dress in loose-fit fabrics that are airy enough.
  • Set a limit on your alcohol consumption and avoid smoking.
  • Try to keep an ice bag beside your bed.
  • Drink ice water as soon as a hot flash sets in.
  • Avoid consuming fat content and high sugar content.
  • Try using meditation techniques like yoga.
  • Hormone Therapy

Consult with your doctor before getting into hormone therapy to treat your symptoms. Hormones are highly effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of your hot flashes. It also helps in reducing vaginal dryness and loss of bones.

You can take hormones in the form of pills, patches, gels, implants, and creams. Sometimes, patches are mainly for women that have heart-related problems.

There are various types of hormones available on the market to treat hot flashes. It includes synthetic hormones, conjugated estrogen, and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). However, the usage of hormones can also lead to breast cancer, dementia, and heart attacks.

  • Antidepressants to Treat Hot Flashes

A low dose of antidepressants generally causes fewer side effects and also reduces hot flashes. In fact, it is the only non-hormonal treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The following list includes some antidepressants that help treat hot flashes. 

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor, XR)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

Several studies have found that a small dose of SSRIs and SNRIs can help you deal with vasomotor symptoms. For example, a 2014 clinical trial found that a small dose of SSRI venlafaxine (Effexor) reduces hot flashes. Another trial found that a small dose of SNRI paroxetine (Paxil) improves sleep quality during the menopausal transition. 

Should I Take Antidepressants for Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms for a menopausal woman. In fact, 70% of women face this symptom during their menopausal transition. Generally, you can manage hot flashes successfully using hormones in the form of estrogen and progestin. But a clinical trial found that usage of hormones can cause urinary incontinence, breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and dementia.

Several studies have found that the usage of newer antidepressants can serve as an alternative. The FDA approved SSRI and SNRI drugs and used them to treat depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. But clinical trials also found that these drugs can also help to reduce hot flashes and night sweats.

Side Effects of Antidepressants for Hot Flashes

The following are the side effects of antidepressants for hot flashes.

  • Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome may occur due to the usage of certain medicated serotonergic drugs. The severity of this syndrome ranges from mild to life-threatening. The symptoms cause confusion, rapid heart rate, vomiting, and hallucinations.

  • Suicidal Tendencies

Sometimes antidepressants can escalate your suicidal behavior. This side effect is most common among people under the age of 25. But regardless of your age, if you feel suicidal, then consult a psychiatrist immediately.

  • Other Side Effects

Usage of antidepressants also causes other side effects, including headaches, nausea, insomnia, drowsiness, fatigue, and anxiety.

The Bottom Line

Hot flashes are predominant in women in their menopausal transition. Despite a few mild side effects, it’s relatively safe to take antidepressants to manage hot flashes symptoms. However, it’s essential to lower the doses and seek the guidance of a professional before taking antidepressants into your regime.

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