antidepressants for hot flushes?

A doctor yesterday told me that there is a class of antidepressants (SSRIs) that has been shown to be extremely effective for hot flashes. She said that I would see a massive difference after one or two weeks. Now I don’t suffer from depression and I’ve never taken antidepressants so obviously I am worried about the side effects but this doctor said that they are not significant. I am not sure if this is because they are taken in small doses for hot flushes, or what. I was wondering whether anyone here had experience of this or more knowledge to share.

Hi Barbwill

Yes, a friend of mine was prescribed them for hot flushes. Cant remember what they are called (sorry, how annoying!), but they certainly worked for her and it was nothing to do with depression.

Good luck, I hope they work for you too!

Ah! just remembered, they were Citalopram.

Joan x

I also had them for hot flushes when I was having Herceptin. I too was worried because I have never been depressed in my life and didn’t want to start on the road of anti-depressants, but the dose they give you is too low compared to if you were having them for depression.

The ones my oncologist prescribed for me were Venlafaxine and I took 37.5mg. I had to take it with food as on an empty stomach they can make you feel sick, but the hot flushes disappeared within a couple of days.

I took them for about 3 months and then came off them gradually over a few days by taking one and missing a day and so on.

No problems since.

Hi taking 10mg of citalopram for flushes. MUCH better. I didn’t notice any side effects except felt a bit sick initially for couple of days. This may not have been a side effect though. No weight gain, in fact I am more active and I’m trying to lose some. Like you, I wasn’t depressed but the tiredness from broken nights was affecting me. I’m feeling human again :)x

I too am taking 10mg of citalopram. It has worked wonders for me. I still have hot flushes, but far fewer and less intense. It has made the difference between coping with them and not coping. I have also noticed that I am much more relaxed and laid back than I was!

Hi there
I’m feeling really cheated reading these comments about citalopram. I’m on 30g, having increased dose from 10 than 20mg. My flushes are terrible and really affect the quality of my life.I’m normally a cold person so most of the time I have to wear lots of layers to keep my self warm and then bang! a flush comes along and I’m stripping down to the last possible layer. The sweat is pouring off me and I have prickles running up and down my arms. A few minutes later I’m freezing cold so its back on with my layers.This happens about 20 times a day and in the night. It’s become a joke for the children in my class but I find it embarrasiing and a nuisance. My doc put me on a drug they treat migraines for as it does something to the blood veesels but I can’t remember the name of it now. That didn’t work either but I’m still on citalopram as it keeps my stress levels on an even keel.

Annys x

Annys, you should try other drugs. There are several to try - it’s a bit of trial and error. A couple of years ago I used clonidine, which was brilliant for six months then it stopped working. I have also tried amytriptiline but that made my hot flushes worse.

I take 10mg of Amitriptyline each night and find it helps a lot. It doesn’t eliminate the hot flushes altogether but it’s certainly reduced them, and since it also has a sedative effect, it helps me sleep.

10mg is a very small fraction of the dose that would be used to treat depression (usually 50 - 100mg) and it’s not addictive.

It may not suit everyone, but I found it has much fewer unpleasant side effects than citalopram, sertraline, clonidine did for me.


I tried the venlafaxine and after taking only one tablet was thrown into a massive depression and actually felt suicidal (not good when you live right by the sea cliffs) so stopped taking that immediately and went back to the GP who gave me Clonidine (not a anti-depressant) this is working and hot flushes have stopped so too has the horrible migraines that I suffered with every month around the time I would of had a period (in menopause now) and I’m not suicidal.

I think its just a case of trying these things until you find something that works for you, just like all our treatments and dx, everyone reacts differently.

Here’s a link to my blog site where I’ve listed the names of the Anti-depressants

Wishing you all the best, something will turn up that will work for you and alleviate you of the awful hot flushes.

Sending love and light
sarahlousie xx

hi barbwill
lots of drugs are used for more than 1 thing - look at the humble sspirin, which seems to be the only drug you need for everything these days
there are several ssri’s so you can try one & swap if you don’t get on with it, & they’re almost always taken at a lower dose for hot flushes than for depression, if that matters to you
it can take a while to find the right drug & dose but worth persevering for the break from hot flushes - bliss - although with the warmer weather i’m due a review of my dose, i think

Thank you all. After a chat with my GP I have today started to take the drug reccommended to me by the hospital doctor: fluoxetine 20mg, none other than Prozac ! I never thought I would be taking Prozac in my life ! Anyway, the GP said that it’s a very safe drug, very tried and tested as it’s so well known. I’ll give it a go and see. I’m off to the very south of Italy for a month soon so I hope it will help me cope with the very hot weather.
Also, I am in surgical menopause after the removal of my ovaries as a preventative measure. The gynaecological oncologist told me that the hot flushes should settle after 6-9 months from the operation. I am not sure I can believe that as I know that most people struggle with hot flushes for years. And I am on tamoxifen anyway for another 4 and half years. does anybody thing that my hot flushes are going to disappear naturally any time soon ?

I realise I’m rather late posting this reply but haven’t logged on recently, it’s just that I’m about to ask if anyone can possibly have hotflushes as bad as mine and I noticed your comment - I feel EXACTLY the same. I’ve tried so many things (currently sepia - not making any difference) and am on 20mg citalopram. God knows how I would be if I wasn’t taking that! I’ve also tried the migraine tablet (think it’s clonidine) which didn’t help. I’m quite at my wits end as it’s also affecting my quality of life, I’ve just had my hair cut very short today as the sweat pouring down my head makes it look like I’ve been caught in the rain! It’s taken SO LONG to grow back and I was aiming for a shortish bob (finished treatment 18 months ago and had these flushes since I started chemo) but I’ve given up now. No one can possibly understand how bad hot flushes are unless they’ve experienced them, some are quite debilitating/exhausting and I have to sit down til they’ve passed.
I hope you see this message as at least you’ll know you’re not alone xx

Barbwill, I spotted that you are taking Fluoxetine as well as Tamoxifen. Some Oncs don’t recommend taking both as Fluoxetine and other SSRIs may reduce the effectiveness of Tamoxifen. I’m on Mirtazapine, which is from a different class of anti-depressants, for both mood swings and hot flushes and have found it very effective - my hot flushes went from one every 30 minutes or so to just 2 or 3 a day. But check this out with your Onc - GPs may not be aware of the possible contraindications.

Hi madkiki
Thanks for the message. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. My mother didn’t have and my sister isnt having hot flushes so I assume its the tamoxifen that’s causing them.My mum didn’t have them because she was on HRT for years and years. She developed breast cancer when she was 76, had a lumpectomy and 6 yrs on is thankfully in good health. The HRT probably didn’t help but in those days ignorance was bliss. She sailed thro the menopause years. I unfortunately had to have a mastectomy at the age of 50 even though I hadn’t been on HRT. She was luckier than me in just having the lumpectomy and still has her breast looking reasonably ok. I’m continuing with the citalopram because they have reduced my stress considerably and I’m scared of returning to the freaked out , weepy wreck that I was when I was perimenopausal. I tie my hair up to keep my neck as cool as I can as I don’t want to cut my hair short just yet. Not many years left when I feel I can have shoulder length hair!! Thanks again for being so supportive.
Annys xxx

Ooh, hello Annys, bit of an update here. I saw my onc for a check up last week and explained the hot flushes were affecting my quality of life so he has a plan! I’m not to take the Arimidex for 1 month to see if flushes any better, if they are there is an alternative drug I can try (something like 'ex…?). If they’re no better apparently there’s a different antidepressant to try. Could you mention it to your consultant? I’ll let you know how I get on. Not taken the Arimidex for about a week - no improvement yet!! Still on/off/on/off all day with the layers! I was banking on taking HRT if I had any probs with menopause regardless of the bad press but it’s obviously not an option now.
Anyway, best of luck, Madkiki xx

I’ve said this on another thread, but I’ve been having acupuncture to counteract hot flushes/night sweats and it really does help - and no SEs! Some places offer it on the NHS or if you’re near a Haven you can get 10 free sessions with them. You’ll need 5 or 6 sessions usually but I saw a definite improvement after 2.

Just be careful, some antidepressants (def Prozac) can interact with tamoxifen and make it ineffective. My consultant wrote to the pharmacy people, and they said not to take together.

I third that “don’t take fluoxetine with Tamoxifen” message. It won’t make you sick, but because they are both metabolised the same way, the Tamoxifen is less effective. There are other SSRIs that you can take which are metabolised differently but with the same effect, so try some of the others.

Get your GP to change you onto something else, there are plenty to try.


I stopped fluoxetine after reading your posts. I then met my oncologist who told me that actually the latest studies exclude a risk of interference between fluoxetine and tamoxifen. I haven’t gone back on it because I have decided to go without now that summer is over.

I stopped fluoxetine after reading your posts. I then met my oncologist who told me that actually the latest studies exclude a risk of interference between fluoxetine and tamoxifen. I haven’t gone back on it because I have decided to go without now that summer is over.