A 2014 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the antidepressant Effexor treats hot flashes in menopausal women as effectively as hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, according to Breastcancer.org. Effexor reduced hot flashes by 47.6 percent in the 96 women who took 75 milligrams daily for eight weeks. The 97 women using HRT experienced a 52.9 percent reduction in hot flashes.
Effexor is the brand name of the chemical venlafaxine, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI, explains Breastcancer.org. The 2014 study is the first to evaluate the efficacy of an antidepressant in comparison to HRT for the treatment of hot flashes. Other antidepressants from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, category used to treat hot flashes as of 2015 include Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac.
The brain’s neurotransmitter serotonin appears to play a role in balancing body heat, notes WebMD. While SSRIs regulate serotonin, Effexor affects both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain, but it is not yet known exactly how it controls hot flashes. Antidepressants are effective for managing the mood swings, irritability and depression often associated with the hormonal changes of menopause. Because SSRIs and SNRIs are typically prescribed in low doses to treat hot flashes, common side effects associated with these drugs, such as loss of libido, insomnia, appetite changes and headache, are minimized.