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Can I use essential oils for depression?
Which are the best essential oils for depression?
How does aromatherapy for depression work?
These are some of the most common questions I get asked about essential oils for depression.
If you are going through a depression, you’ll be glad to know that aromatherapy for depression does work.
In fact, using essential oils for depression and anxiety is a far safer and gentler way to manage this distressing mental condition.
While antidepressant medications are often dispensed to manage the symptoms, there are indications that these medications can cause other problems in the long run. Exchanging one set of problems for another is no solution.
This is where aromatherapy for depression trumps over pharmaceutical antidepressants. Certain aromas work gently yet effectively to combat the symptoms of depression without the risk of triggering off any side effects.
How Aromatherapy Works to Manage Symptoms of Depression
The olfactory system, which facilitates the sense of smell, consists of the nose and nasal passages as well as specialized tissues, olfactory bulbs and mucosa.
This highly sensitive olfactory system shares an almost immediate connection with certain parts of the brain. One of the most powerful connections ties the sense of smell to the limbic system where memory and emotion reside.
This region of the brain also influences heart rate, the balance of hormones, blood pressure, stress levels and breathing. The influence of the limbic system and its strong connection to the sense of smell makes aromatherapy an effective treatment for balancing emotional and mental well-being.
Aromatherapy works by supporting other therapies to alleviate the mental and physical symptoms of depression. The close relationship between the sense of smell and the areas of the brain, which controls memory, breathing, and blood pressure, make it a fast acting method for combating depressive symptoms.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression
The causes of depression vary. Some people may feel depressed because of a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the body while in others, it may get triggered after witnessing or experiencing some kind of trauma.
According to WebMD, depression occurs when sadness deepens into more extreme feelings such as apathy, a loss of self-worth, feelings of disempowerment and lack of hope. It is called clinical depression if these feelings last for prolonged periods of time.
A depressed state is often accompanied by physical distress and other emotional stressors that may include a combination of some of these factors:
- Persistent low energy and debilitating fatigue
- Inability to concentrate
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Loss of interest and enjoyment in daily activities that were once enjoyable
- An inexplicable feeling of sadness that does not go away
- Low sex drive
- Feelings of stagnation
- Preference for being alone as opposed to socializing with friends
- Physical aches and pains
Someone who is depressed may not necessarily experience all of the symptoms all of the time. One person’s symptoms may manifest quite differently from another’s. The frequency and intensity of the symptoms may also differ significantly.
Essential Oils for Depression V/S Medication for Depression
Both the causes and symptoms of depression are so varied and complex that there cannot ever be one single or simple solution to help those with depression to live as whole and happy a life as possible.
There are of course many forms of treatment. Some have unfortunate side effects, and even many that don’t, can require a huge physical and emotional commitment for sufferers and carers. Often the effort involved in the treatment is too much to be borne by an already fragile system.
Passive treatments such as administering essential oils can be a lifeline. While not necessarily a total solution, essential oils can provide some relief with no more effort than application.
You should know that aromatherapy for depression does not work overnight. However, if a better mental state can be reached or maintained by any method that causes no harm, such as aromatherapy, it can then motivate you to take other necessary steps to help with respite.
What Essential Oils are Good for Depression and Anxiety?
When treating depression, essential oils may be used alone to address individual symptoms or as part of a synergistic blend to affect several symptoms at the same time.
Whether used individually or as a blend, the best essential oils for depression are those that meet four criteria. The selected oils should:
- Elevate mood
- Improve energy levels
- Calm and soothe the nervous system
- Improve mental clarity
Here is a snapshot of the various essential oils good for depression and how they work:
- Peppermint – invigorates and uplifts the mind and body and imbues mental clarity
- Turmeric – Relaxes and balances the mind and body
- Orange Blossom – Calms, soothes and relaxes the mind and body
- Rose – calms the mind and reduces stress and anxiety
- Lavender – Calms, soothes and relaxes the mind and body
- Basil – improves mental focus and relieves physical aches
- Jasmine – uplifting aromas
- Bergamot – alleviates depression, anxiety and stress
- Citrus oils (orange, lemon or grapefruit) – uplifts and energizes
- Neroli – improves mood, alleviates insomnia and stress
- Clary sage – relieves fatigue and stress
- Frankincense – improves concentration and mental clarity
- Geranium – calming and uplifting
- Ylang-ylang – relieves anxiety, depression and stress
- Petitgrain – energizing and uplifting
- Sandalwood – calming, relieves stress and depression
- Vetiver – has a grounding, calming and stabilizing effect on the psyche
There is no one best essential oil for depression. Different oils work through different mechanisms. The best oil for you will depend on what is the cause of your symptoms. Being able to identify the cause and triggers of depression can be of great help in choosing the right oil for you.
I’ve put together some more details of the most commonly used aromatherapy essential oils for depression.
Remember, all of these may not work for everybody. The effects vary from one person to another. You may have to experiment a bit to find which essential oil works best for you.
Lavender, bergamot, chamomile and ylang ylang are the four top essential oils for depression. They have been proven to lower anxiety and stress levels, helping reverse feelings of depression.
Lavender is well known for its soothing, calming qualities. But the big question is, is lavender essential oil effective for depression?
Several studies have been conducted to determine if lavender oil is good for depression and all of them showed very promising results. Yes, lavender oil does help.
In one study, several individuals suffering from depression brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder were treated with lavender aromatherapy. The results were very revealing. When used daily, lavender essential oil lowered depression and anxiety, bolstered the participants’ mood, reduced sleep disturbances and help them feel calmer and more relaxed.
Another study showed that lavender aromatherapy significantly reduced the incidence of pastnatal depression and anxiety disorder in women who were at high risk. This is not a quick-fix however. The results were seen after a period of about 4 weeks.
There are several ways you can use lavender essential oil for depression. You can add a few drops to your diffuser and diffuse the aromas of lavender while you’re winding down in the evening or while you sleep at night.
If your depression is making it difficult for you to go to sleep, add a few drops directly on your pillow before you lay down. As you inhale, the gentle, soothing scent of lavender will calm you down and help you drift off to sleep.
You can also rub a drop behing your ears for the same benefits.
The delightful citrus smell of bergamot is invigorating and refreshing.
Bergamot essential oil has a wonderful “pick-me-up” aroma that is very effective for combating fatigue, stress and anxiety. Its powerful stimulating properties make bergamot one of the best essential oils for depression.
Diffusing bergamot essential oil into the room creates very definite feelings of freshness, joy and energy that suppresses depressive thoughts and feelings and lifts your mood.
This yellow-green oil is extracted from the peels of the bitter citrus fruit and has been used since the earliest days of ancient Chinese medicine to relax the spirit and the mind and to help eliminate depression.
Several studies have shown that essential oil blends that contain bergamot and other calming essential oils such as lavender had a remarkably relaxing effect on the participants. After a few weeks of aromatherapy treatment consisting of a bergamot and lavender blend, the participants were calmer and more relaxed, with lower pulse rates, blood pressure and breathing rate. This clearly demonstrates the relaxing effects of using lavender and bergamot for depression.
To use bergamot oil fordepression, rub two to three drops into your hands, cup them around your mouth and nose and breathe in the aromas slowly.
There are two different ways to use chamomile essential oil for depression.
Chamomile is a gentle and relaxing essential oil that is extremely soothing. This essential oil is mild enough to use as often as needed. Chamomile essential oil works well for symptoms that include irritability and moodiness and a feeling of constant dissatisfaction with almost everything.
You may also like to try a steaming cup of Chamomile tea prior to going to bed to help unwind after a long day. It is also well-known that many other essential oils can help you to drift off to sleep a little more easily.
Ylang ylang is another one of the more powerful essential oils for depression. Ylang ylang essential oil works so well for depression because of its mild sedative effects, which reduces stress, helps you relax and improves your mood.
Diffusing these essential oil in your room can stave off depression and have an almost immediate, positive effect on your mood and mental state. It helps release negative emotions such as anger, jealousy and low self-esteem and enhances self-confidence and mood.
If your symptoms are the result of agitation or extreme nervousness and emotional fatigue, Neroli oil is one of the best essential oil choices to calm your system.
Neroli is the citrusy, floral fragrance derived from the flowers of various orange trees. It is most commonly extracted from the Seville orange.
Neroli essential oil gives off a calming scent that will help to reduce your anxiety and depression. This oil is ideal if you have sudden onset anxiety, such as sleep induced or thought induced depression and anxiety issues.
Neroli can be exceptionally helpful for people in a depressed state as it enables them to nourish their spirit and mind while finding the strength to ease back into the world around them.
Put a few drops into your diffuser and sit back to inhale the scent. You will find yourself feeling calmer and more relaxed after a few moments so you can get your depression and anxiety under control.
This is one of the more expensive essential oils but you only need to use 1 or 2 drops at a time so a little will go a long way. And it is totally worth it.
Peppermint essential oil gives your body an invigorating jumpstart. This invigoration can help if your depression gives you feelings of sadness or fatigue. It can also help with postpartum depression by perking your senses up and getting you moving.
If your depression and anxiety cause stomach upset, you can ingest food grade peppermint oil to help settle your stomach issues and get you back on track.
If you do decide to ingest it, you need to make sure it is marked as food grade and is still essential and organic. If it states flavoring on the bottle, it is not essential or organic and will not give you the same properties as true essential peppermint oil.
Pregnancy is one of the triggers for depression and anxiety. During a pregnancy, your doctor may tell you that you can not take any form of depression or anxiety medication. You may try to go with supplements only to find you can not take them due to pregnancy related issues, or that they do not work.
Rose essential oil provides a safe and gentle alternative to manage the symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Some mothers have found that the scent of rose oil does help them and can help reduce depression and anxiety when used as an inhalant or topically on the skin.
Frankincense essential oil is more than just an incense that is used during the holidays. This essential oil is very effective at keeping depression at bay.
The oil can be used topically on your wrists and other pulse points of the body. As your pulse causes the pulse points to move slightly, they will infuse the air with the oil that is on those locations. The oil can give you an ongoing feel of serenity.
Cautionary Note About Using Essential Oils for Depression
While aromatherapy works very well to manage the symptoms of depression, it is not an absolute cure for depression and should not be considered as such.
If you are feeling depressed, it is important to seek counseling from a qualified practitioner and always follow your doctor’s advice as to the best treatment options for you.
It is equally important to first consult with your counselor before you use any essential oils for depression.
Aromatherapy is a great complementary, all-natural remedy that can uplift your mood anytime you use it but it does not hurt to be extra cautious.
Always treat essential oils with care. Be cognizant of any allergies or potential drug interactions. As with all therapies to treat medical conditions, seek the input of a doctor or aromatherapist to gain the maximum benefits of this form of treatment.
Using Aromatherapy for Depression
You can find a variety of recipes incorporating different oil blends by consulting with an aromatherapist or searching online and in reference books on the topics of essential oils and aromatherapy.
As you experiment with different blends or create your own, keep the properties of the desired oils as well as their scents in mind. The ratio of oils blended together as well as the dominance of their scent will determine the aroma and the effect of the final product. Try to blend complementary oils together in complementary ratios. For example, rose, sandalwood and vetiver blend beautifully together.
There are several ways you can use aromatherapy essential oils for depression.
- Put a few drops of your chosen oil or oil blend in your favorite aromatherapy diffuser, switch it on and inhale the calming aromas as you sit back and relax or go about your everyday chores.
- Add a few drops to your bath water prior to stepping in. Make sure you run the bath first and then add the oil once the bathtub is full, so the oil floats on top. This will help you get the maximum benefits of the oil as you soak in the tub.
- Get a massage with a pre-blended massage oil for depression.
- Use skin creams and lotions that contain essential oils known to alleviate depression. Never use concentrated essential oils directly on the skin. Always mix them with a carrier oil or use pre-blended skin creams or lotions from reputed manufacturers.
- Burn incense sticks or place a few drops of essential oil in a pot of warm water. The oil will evaporate permeating the air with its scent as the water cools.
As with many alternative therapies, aromatherapy works best with consistent and appropriate application.
One of the biggest benefits of using aromatherapy for depression is that you can practice it every day without worrying about adverse side effects. However, you must be careful about using essential oils sparingly. Too much can cause problems.
When you find an essential oil or combination of oils that provide you some relief, use them often and soak up the feelings of self-care and self-love the application gives.
Try one of these essential oils for depression today.
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