Essential Oils for Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that has many different symptoms including feelings of sadness, irritability, sleep disturbances, change in appetite and anxiety.1 Since the symptoms of depression can be physical as well as mental, it can be difficult to treat effectively. Depression is a serious medical condition and without proper treatment it can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. If you or someone you love is experiencing depression make sure to get help from a trained professional.
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors such as genetic predisposition, a traumatic life event, or loss. Some new mothers can also experience postpartum depression after the birth of a child. Treatments for depression can include traditional methods such as therapy and medication. Common medications prescribed for depression can have many side effects including, but not limited to: nausea, insomnia, increased appetite and weight gain, anxiety, and loss of sexual desire. In some rare cases, medications can increase feeling of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.1
However, some alternative treatments have been found to be effective in treating mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Exercise, diet, and certain essential oils can help reduce symptoms of depression and increase quality of life. Often people find that alternative methods such as using an essential oil for depression can have a significant impact on their everyday life.
Since depression symptoms can vary widely from person to person there are many essential oils that can be used to help improve mood and help you feel better. Different essential oils for mental health can help increase energy and happiness, while other essential oils can help with physical symptoms such as headaches or pain. Essential oils for depression can even be combined and used together for an integrated approach.
What Essential Oils are Good for Depression
Below, Essential Oil Experts has listed the best essentials oil for depression, which can be selected or combined based on specific symptoms.
Lavender Essential Oil
There are several valuable qualities of lavender essential oil that can be used to help depression including its natural analgesic, relaxing and anti-anxiety properties.
Several clinical trials have noted that inhalation of lavender essential oil may help reduce anxiety, lower perceived pain, improve mood, promote sleep, lower feelings of frustration and promote relaxation. For its ability to address a number of depression symptoms and pleasant aroma, lavender essential oil is often considered the best essential oil for depression and postpartum depression.
Bergamot Essential Oil
If your depression symptoms include fatigue, anxiety or muscle tension, bergamot essential oil’s beneficial qualities may help provide relief. Bergamot essential oil has been shown in several scientific studies to reduce muscle tension, alleviate stress, reduce fatigue and decrease heart rate through inhalation.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Believed to have spiritual significance for thousands of years, science is beginning to discover the many benefits of frankincense essential oil. In a recent clinical trial, frankincense essential oil was shown to reduce depression symptoms in test subjects. It’s believed that inhalation of frankincense essential oil may improve mood by opening up an ion channel in the brain that helps regulate emotions. This points to a powerful connection between essential oils and emotions that may be significant for further essential oil depression studies.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Notable benefits of ylang ylang essential oil include stress reduction and the ability to promote a sense of calm. If anxiety is a symptom of your depression, essential oils made from ylang ylang may help you calm down, reduce heart rate and even lower cortisol levels.
In a 2012 study, users who inhaled a blend of essential oils including ylang ylang were observed to have lower cortisol levels than a control group.
When individuals are stressed, cortisol levels increase and may stay elevated in a constant fight or flight response. When this stress response stays on for long periods of time, it can lead to health complications and compromise the normal functioning of the immune system, digestive system and even growth.2
Rose Essential Oil
The pleasant aroma of rose essential oil can have an uplifting psychological effect, which may make it an effective alternative treatment for depression. When diffused, rose essential oil’s therapeutic properties have been shown to induce feelings of calmness, sedation and help reduce muscle tension. In laboratory settings, rose essential oil has been shown to reduce muscle contractions, which may help support its calming effect. Rose and lavender are considered excellent essential oils for postpartum depression.
Vanilla Essential Oil
One valuable benefit of vanilla essential oil is its natural anti-depressant activity. Vanillin, a compound found in vanilla essential oil, has been shown to have anti-depressant like effects similar to Prozac in a recent study.
Nutmeg Essential Oil
Known for its distinct aroma, nutmeg essential oil’s benefits include natural anti-depressant activity. In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, nutmeg essential oil was administered to test subjects for a three-day period. Researchers noted significant improvements in terms of mood and mobility and were comparable the effects of traditional anti-depressants.
How to Use Essential Oils for Depression
Since patients may experience different symptoms of depression, essential oils can be used in a variety of ways to fit each individual lifestyle.
If your depression causes muscle tension or general body aches and pain, then an essential oil massage may help. Add 1-2 drops of essential oil into a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba) and massage into sore muscles.
Aromatherapy for depression can give an immediate boost in mood and increase energy. Any of the above mentioned essential oils can be added to a diffuser.
If you do not have a diffuser, add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water which will allow the scent to be released into the air.
In the Bath
For users who experience anxiety as part of their depression, adding lavender, rose or ylang ylang essential oil into a warm bath may help promote relaxation. Add 5 to 8 drops of essential oil into warm, running bath water before you get in.
Using a single essential oil depression treatment can be effective. Combining essential oils may also have a powerful effect. Try adding a couple different essential oils to a bath, or making a custom massage oil. Essential oils for mood swings like nutmeg, vanilla, and frankincense can be combined together in a diffuser for a calming effect. By using a variety of essential oils, you can find the combinations that work best for you.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Koretz, D., Merikangas, K. R., Rush, A.J., Walters, E.E., & Wang, P. S. (2003). The Epidemiology of Major Depressive Disorder. JAMA, 289(23), 3095. doi:1001/jama.289.23.3095
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, April 21). Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Retrieved May 9, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037