The efficacy and tolerability of SSRI/SNRIs in the treatment of vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: a systematic review

J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2015 Jan;27(1):54-61. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12137. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Purpose: To systematically review the evidence related to the efficacy and tolerability of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) used for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Data sources: Medline, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library databases were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Eighteen trials met the criteria for review.

Conclusions: Results from these trials indicate that paroxetine, citalopram, escitalopram, venlafaxine, and desvenlafaxine are effective in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Fluoxetine and sertraline appear to be less effective and should be considered second-line options for treatment.

Implications for practice: The SSRIs and SNRIs can reduce hot flashes by 65% and begin working within the first week. Patient response is variable and if one drug does not improve hot flashes, another can be tried after a 1- to 2-week drug trial. Paroxetine, citalopram, and escitalopram appear to have the fewest adverse effects. Considering cost, paroxetine and citalopram are the most cost-efficient.

Keywords: Hot flashes; hormone replacement therapy; menopause; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI); vasomotor symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Citalopram / adverse effects
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use
  • Desvenlafaxine Succinate / adverse effects
  • Desvenlafaxine Succinate / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy
  • Hot Flashes / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Menopause / drug effects*
  • Menopause / metabolism
  • Menopause / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Paroxetine / adverse effects
  • Paroxetine / therapeutic use
  • Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / adverse effects
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use
  • Vasomotor System*
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride / adverse effects
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Citalopram
  • Paroxetine
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride
  • Sertraline
  • Desvenlafaxine Succinate