- Question from Hjshaman: How is hormonal therapy affected, if at all, by the use of antidepressants?
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
For women who are experiencing depression or hot flashes while on tamoxifen, studies have found that low doses of antidepressants like Paxil (chemical name: paroxetine) or Effexor (chemical name: venlafaxine) can reduce hot flashes by about one-half to two-thirds.
Recently, there was some concern expressed about whether the antidepressants may interfere with the effectiveness of hormonal therapy. This concern has not been substantiated. At this time, most oncologists—as well as primary care doctors—still feel comfortable giving low doses of these medications to improve the quality of life relative to hot flashes (low doses of these meds) or for depression (higher doses of these meds).
Editor's Note: If you are taking tamoxifen, talk to your doctor about which antidepressants are safe for you to take. Some antidepressants -- including Paxil, Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), Prozac (chemical name: fluoxetine), Cymbalta (chemical name: duloxetine), and Zoloft (chemical name: sertraline) -- interfere with the body's ability to convert tamoxifen into its active form, preventing you from getting the full benefit of tamoxifen. For more information, please visit the Tamoxifen page.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Hormonal Therapy Updates featured Sandra Schnall, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about hormonal therapies and answered questions about which ones work best in different situations, how they might fit into your treatment sequence, how to deal with side effects, and more.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in April 2004.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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