The exact cause of hot flashes is unknown. Declining estrogen levels play a role, which is why symptoms occur around menopause and why estrogen is an effective therapy.
Certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters also play a role. In particular serotonin, norepinephrine, and endorphins are thought to be involved in the generation of hot flashes.
Venlafaxine is part of a family of drugs called serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. Venlafaxine is thought to work for hot flashes by increasing the level of serotonin (and possibly norepinephrine) in the brain, which improves the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
The use of venlafaxine for the treatment of hot flashes is an off-label use. Rory-affiliated providers have the discretion to prescribe venlafaxine off-label if they believe it is an appropriate course of treatment based on a patient’s unique medical history, symptoms, and preferences. To learn more about off-label prescribing, see the related Rory FAQ.