Nonhormonal treatment of postmenopausal symptoms is a subject of great interest today. The results of studies on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are promising, but long-term results do not exist. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of citalopram and fluoxetine in the treatment of physical and psychological menopausal symptoms and their effects on psychosocial and sexual well being in symptomatic postmenopausal women.
One hundred fifty healthy women suffering from menopausal symptoms were recruited to this placebo-controlled double-blind study with a follow-up period of 9 months. They were randomized into three groups receiving placebo, fluoxetine, or citalopram. The initial dose was 10 mg of both fluoxetine and citalopram, and it was increased to 20 mg at 1 month and to 30 mg at the 6-month visit. The main outcome measures were hot flushes and Kupperman index. The RAND-36 Quality of Life questionnaire, Beck's Depression Scale, and the McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire were used at every control visit.
There were no statistically significant differences between the groups in respect to number of hot flushes, Kupperman index, or Beck's Depression Scale, although there was a tendency in all these parameters in favor of SSRIs versus placebo. Insomnia improved significantly in the citalopram group versus placebo. Discontinuation rates at nine months were 40% in the placebo group, 34% in the fluoxetine group and 34% in the citalopram group.
Compared with placebo, citalopram and fluoxetine have little effect on hot flushes and cannot therefore be recommended for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, if vasomotor symptoms are the main complaint. Whether the improvement of insomnia by means of citalopram affects the quality of sleep needs further investigation.