Statistics on the World Health Organization (WHO) website indicate that over 264 million people around the world suffer from depression. Depression is a disorder that is different from feelings of depression that arise from common challenges and circumstances. When a person is suffering from chronic or long-lasting depression it can begin to affect their work or school, as well as their relationships and personal life. While it is important to note that essential oils cannot cure depression, they can in some cases help to lift mood and manage some symptoms. Our list of the best essential oils for depression also includes oils that can help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, as these can be common in those suffering.
Common Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder: This type of depression can range from mild (where the individual can still function) to severe. Common symptoms include anxiety, feelings of low self-worth, trouble sleeping and eating, and poor concentration.
Bipolar Affective Disorder: Individuals with bipolar can alternate between manic and depressive states while acting normal in between.
Persistent Depressive Disorder: This is when an individual suffers from feelings of depression for more time than not over the course of two years. They may have brief moments where they feel better, but these will last for less than two months.
Postpartum Depression: This type of depression can actually be onset before the baby is even born. While many new moms suffer from mood swings after the initial birthing process, postpartum depression is much more severe and longer-lasting. If severe enough, this disorder can even lead to psychosis.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): In PMDD the symptoms of PMS that relate to mood become much more intense. These can include drastic mood swings, feeling sad or hopeless, severe stress, and the inability to concentrate.
How Using Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression Work
When using essential oils for anxiety and depression, the scent is first recognized by cells in the nose. These cells then send an impulse to a part of the brain known as the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb interprets the scent, then sends a signal to other areas of the brain, including the limbic system. The limbic system includes the amygdala and the hypothalamus, both of which relate to memories, emotion, and mood. You have probably experienced a time where a certain scent brought about an intense emotional reaction from you. This is because smell is highly linked to our memories. For this reason, using aromatherapy oils may help to improve mood, lessening symptoms of depression in some individuals.
The 5 Best Essential Oils for Depression
Bergamot is one of the best essential oils for anxiety and depression. A human study indicates that bergamot is a safe and effective way to improve mood and reduce feelings of both depression and anxiety. This study also shows the physiological effect bergamot offers, with participants showing lower heart rate and blood pressure. Interestingly enough, bergamot oil is also what gives Earl Grey tea its characteristic aroma! For most people, it doesn’t get more comforting than that.
Though research on essential oils and how they affect depression and anxiety is limited, there has been a considerable amount of research done on lavender. Findings indicate that lavender essential oil activates certain neurons in the hypothalamus, which may contribute to its antidepressant properties. While more human studies need to be done, there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that the sweet, herbaceous scent of lavender can help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
One of the common factors in both depression and anxiety is an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) and a decrease in serotonin (the feel-good hormone). Clary sage may be able to reduce cortisol, increasing feelings of wellbeing. This makes it one of the best essential oils for depression and anxiety. Additionally, clary sage shows indications of being able to help treat symptoms of menopause and PMS.
Jasmine is famous for its spicy, floral aroma. It is a favorite of many perfumes and cosmetic manufacturers and is in many famous fragrances. However, jasmine oil is also one of the best essential oils for anxiety and depression. Studies indicate that jasmine offers a stimulating effect, making users feel more alert, while also increasing feelings of positivity. Researchers believe that it targets GABA receptors, similar to prescription medications meant to treat mental health disorders. The scent of jasmine oil is also associated with romance, as many people believe it can act as an aphrodisiac.
Last on our list of the best essential oils for depression is Roman chamomile oil. This is due to its calming properties, which can help reduce anxiety and induce sleep. Lack of sleep can be a major factor in depression, either causing an onset or making symptoms worse. Chamomile is also one of the few essential oils that are considered to be safe for small children when used appropriately.
Essential Oil Blends for Anxiety and Depression
- 1 Drop of Lavender Essential Oil
- 1 Drop of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
- 3 Drops of Sweet Orange Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Jasmine Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
- 1 Drop of Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
- 3 Drops of Sweet Orange Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Clary Sage Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil
The Best Essential Oils for Depression: Methods of Use
There are many different ways to achieve the benefits of aromatherapy. If you want to use our list of the best essential oils for anxiety and depression, here are a few easy ways to begin:
There are many different types of diffusers on the market, including both active and passive. Both of them work by diffusing the scent into the environment around them. Try diffusing lavender or chamomile oil in your bedroom half an hour before you go to sleep. This will offer a calming effect and ideally work as a natural sleep aid.
Massage therapy can help treat symptoms of stress and anxiety. For extra effect, try adding a few drops of essential oil to your massage oil. This will allow you to reap the benefits of aromatherapy while also enjoying a relaxing massage!
You can easily combine essential oils with witch hazel or water, and create your own room sprays. This allows you to use any combination of oils you want, and get an immediate effect. You can also use these to lightly spray linens, to keep them smelling fresh and clean.
For a soothing soak in the tub, add a few drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as sweet almond. Mix into the bath after water is done running for the best effect.
To incorporate essential oils into your everyday life, you can also blend them into base lotions, creams, shampoos, and conditioners.
Depression can be a serious medical condition. If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from depression, particularly with thoughts of self-harm, it is very important to seek professional help. Our list of the best essential oils for depression is by no means a cure, and it is important that a professional is aware of your condition and ensures you get the help you need. Essential oils may be able to help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety and help to improve mood, but they are not a solution.
When using essential oils, take care to avoid coming into direct skin contact with them. Essential oils come from the essence of plants, but they are very high in concentration and can cause irritation or more serious harm. You should also never ingest oils, as many are toxic and can cause serious health effects. Keep oils away from children and pets. Most importantly, if you suffer from underlying health conditions or take prescription medication you should always consult with your doctor first before beginning essential oil therapy. Certain oils can react negatively with medications, so it is important that they know and advise you properly.
Depression is a serious condition that affects many people around the world. It can range from mild to severe, and symptoms can vary from person to person. If you suffer from depression it is very important that you seek help from a professional, who will help make sure you get the care you need. This list of the best essential oils for depression is meant to work in conjunction with other avenues of help, by reducing feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. If you have any other oils that you find help to ease symptoms, please let us know with a comment below!