Pilot evaluation of citalopram for the relief of hot flashes

J Support Oncol. 2003 May-Jun;1(1):47-51.


Symptoms associated with premature menopause are a significant problem for women with a history of breast cancer who cannot take hormone replacement therapy. Thus, effective nonhormonal alternatives are needed to manage hot flashes, the most prevalent symptom of menopause. Previous studies have defined that venlafaxine, an anti-depressant, is an effective treatment for such hot flashes. Based on suggestive anecdotal information, we set out to evaluate, in a pilot trial, whether the antidepressant citalopram might be a good nonhormonal treatment option to add to our armamentarium for controlling hot flashes. A prospective pilot study was developed in which patients were studied for 5 weeks, with the first week used to establish a baseline, followed by 4 weeks of treatment with citalopram. During the first week of treatment, 10 mg/day of citalopram was taken while 20 mg/day was taken during each of the following three weeks. Hot-flash diaries were completed daily, symptom diaries and quality-of-life items were completed weekly and the Profile of Mood States was completed at baseline and at week 5. Evaluable patients who completed the study had a mean hot-flash frequency reduction of 58% and a mean hot-flash score reduction of 64% from baseline to week 5. The patients finishing the study also reported decreased anger, tension and depression, as well as improved mood. This pilot trial suggests that citalopram may be an effective non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes in women who can tolerate it.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Citalopram / administration & dosage
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy*
  • Hot Flashes / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Citalopram