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Mixed message on antidepressant for hot flashes

Rating

5 Star

Mixed message on antidepressant for hot flashes

Our Review Summary

This article presents the results of several studies examining whether antidepressants are effective in reducing hot flashes in menopausal women.  The article avoids overstating the results of these studies and provides information from skeptics that many of these results could be the result of the placebo effect and have nothing to do with treatment.

 

Why This Matters

For some women hot flashes can impede on quality of life during menopause.  Since many doctors and women are leery about using hormone replacement therapy to alleviate hot flashes, other drugs are being investigated.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The article does discuss how much Lexapro – the antidepressant mentioned in the article – costs.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

Adequate quantitative description of the extent and timing of hot flash reduction for the treatment group.  Describing the response in placebo group as “occurring more slowly and to a lesser degree” provides an adequate sense of the difference.  And story provided quantitative comparison for the outcome of insomnia between placebo and treatment groups.

 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The article did discuss some of the side effects of antidepressants.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The article did a good job of putting the results of the study into perspective with quotes from scientists who were skeptical of the findings.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The article did not commit disease mongering of hot flashes.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The article does appear to use independent sources including interviewing Dr Robert Freedman, a psychiatrist who was skeptical of the true benefits of using antidepressants to treat hot flashes.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The article mentions at the very end other remedies for treating hot flashes besides prescription drugs.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The article made it clear that the use of antidepressants to treat hot flashes was off-label use of the drug.  Even though the article presented results from studies, it is not clear how widespread is the off-label use of antidepressants to treat hot flashes.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The article did state that antidepressants are not FDA approved to be used to treat hot flashes and that doctors prescribing this are doing so off-label.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The article does not appear to rely solely on a press release.

Total Score: 10 of 10 Satisfactory

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