CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy is a particularly exciting option treat hot flashes without hormones.
If you are dealing with hot flashes and night sweats and can’t or don’t want to take hormones, a new study in the June 2014 issue of the journal Menopause may be just the thing you are searching for. It uses CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy to turn down the heat. This is a particularly exciting option for women with breast cancer who are typically unable to take hormone therapy.
CBT works by changing a person’s beliefs about coping, control of hot flashes and beliefs about sleep and night sweats. It can be learned with the assistance of a trained therapist or with some self-help programs. The symptoms don’t change; how you experience them changes.
You perceive the symptoms in a different way and respond to them differently
In this study, 140 women with problematic hot flashes and night sweats were randomly assigned to group CBT (48 women) or self-help CBT (47), and 45 were assigned to usual care. The women were asked to answer self-report questionnaires at baseline, 6 weeks and at 26 weeks after starting.
CBT was effective at reducing both hot flashes and night sweats regardless of age, menopause status, weight or psychological status. The more of the manual the women in the self-help group read, and the more of the homework assignments the women in the therapy sessions did, the greater their improvement. With practice, they were able to perceive their symptoms in a different way and respond to them differently.
This is great news for women who are struggling from hot flashes and night sweats. CBT is a tool that can be learned with practice by most people – and once they do, it’s a great option to significantly lower the impact of their symptoms. And best of all, there are no contraindications.