While the reasons for its efficacy are unknown as of 2015, the antidepressant paroxetine treats hot flashes experienced in menopause, according to Drugs.com. Paroxetine is an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and one specific brand of the medication, called Brisdelle, exclusively helps manage moderate to severe hot flashes in menopausal women. Paroxetine helps balance brain chemicals and also treats premenstrual dysphoric disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Researchers believe that the neurotransmitter serotonin helps regulate body heat, which might explain the effectiveness of SSRIs, such as paroxetine, escitalopram and venlafaxine, in treating hot flashes, explains WebMD. An increase in the brain’s supply of this chemical also helps balance mood swings, depression and irritability in women due to hormonal changes. These antidepressants offer a viable treatment alternative to hormone replacement therapy for many perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal women. Doctors typically prescribe them in lower doses for these uses, lessening the potential side effects.
Women using the Brisdelle formulation should not drink alcohol, advises Drugs.com. This medication can increase a woman’s risk for bleeding and bone fractures. Some women experience vision changes and pain, swelling or redness in or around the eyes when using Brisdelle. Life-threatening low blood sodium levels are also possible when using this drug, and women who experience mental confusion, fainting, headaches and seizures should seek immediate medical attention.