Mind and body go together, and psychosomatic interactions are very common, although not fully understood. Traditional medicine is perhaps a very good example for the healing potential of alternative therapies. Hot flushes, although believed to be derived from menopause-associated hormonal changes, may be influenced by a variety of emotional and psychological factors. Two recent studies have highlighted the role of cognitive behavior interventions on hot flushes [1, 2]. In the first study , a secondary analysis was performed of 140 women with problematic hot flushes/night sweats (HF/NS) who were recruited to the MENOS2 trial. Women suffered at least ten episodes per week for at least a month. Forty-eight women were randomly assigned to group cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), 47 were randomly assigned to self-help CBT, and 45 were randomly assigned to usual care. Self-report questionnaires were completed at baseline, 6 weeks post-randomization, and 26 weeks post-randomization. CBT was effective at reducing HF/NS problem-rating regardless of age, body mass index, menopause status, or psychological factors at baseline. Fully reading the manual in the self-help CBT arm and completing most homework assignments in the group CBT arm were related to greater improvement in problem-rating at 6 weeks. The effect of CBT on HF/NS problem-rating was mediated by changes in cognitions (beliefs about coping/control of hot flushes, beliefs about night sweats and sleep) but not by changes in mood. The findings suggested that CBT works mainly by changing the cognitive appraisal of HF/NS. In the second study , CBT was provided through self-help CBT intervention (booklet and relaxation/paced breathing CD) during a 4-week period. Women ([i]n[/i] = 47) also received one ‘guiding’ telephone call from a clinical psychologist 2 weeks into treatment to provide support and discuss individual treatment goals. Questionnaires were collected at baseline, 6 weeks (post-treatment) and 3 months (follow-up) after the end of the intervention. There was a significant reduction in HF/NS problem-rating following the intervention which was maintained at follow-up. Moreover, women reported less frequent HF/NS along with further improvements in sleep quality, mood and HF/NS beliefs and behaviors. Thus, self-help CBT for HF/NS proved effective in women unable to attend face-to-face sessions, or living at a distance, while using an additional, minimal telephone guidance.
Department of Medicine T, Ichilov Hospital, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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