Last year, the FDA approved the first non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes – a 7.5-mg formulation of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) paroxetine which was marketed under the name of Brisdelle.

A new study suggests that low dose paroxetine (7.5 mg) not only helps with vasomotor symptoms, it can also improve sleep. In a recent study, postmenopausal women with moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms were randomly assigned to receive either paroxetine 7.5 mg (n = 591) or placebo (n = 593) once daily for 12 or 24 weeks.

Nighttime awakenings attributed to vasomotor symptoms were significantly reduced within 4 weeks of initiating paroxetine 7.5 mg treatment (39% reduction vs. 28% for placebo; P = 0.0049), and these reductions were sustained throughout the 12 or 24 weeks of treatment. Paroxetine also significantly increased nighttime sleep duration (week 4: +31 minutes vs. +16 min for placebo; P = 0.0075); it did not appear to effect sleep-onset latency, and no sleep-related adverse events such as sedation were reported.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Pinkerton JV, Joffe H, Kazempour K, Mekonnen H, Bhaskar S, Lippman J. Low-dose paroxetine (7.5 mg) improves sleep in women with vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. Menopause. 2014 Aug 18. [Epub ahead of print]