Two of the greatest afflictions that 1 in 4 Americans experience is emotional and mental health disorders. The most common mental health disorder is depression. It can cause physical and emotional symptoms that can vary depending on the person. Some of the symptoms that surface are anxiety, sadness, despair, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.
Let’s take a look at essential oils and depression. Can oils relieve symptoms and bring some relief? There are many people suffering from symptoms who have concerns about the bad side-effects from antidepressants. Actually, a government study stated that antidepressants fail to cure the symptoms of major depression. So people who want to avoid the side effects seek out alternative treatments that are safer. Essential oils are not a cure, but provide a drug-free option to help relieve symptoms and make the condition manageable.
How Essential Oils Work To Help Depression
How can essential oils work to alleviate depression? Depression happens when there are changes in the chemistry of the brain. When certain essential oils are used, they can affect parts of the brain that control our emotions, moods, pain, and pleasure. This area of the brain is known as the limbic system.
The smell and the molecular compounds of essential oils travel through the system and bind to the olfactory receptors. This in turn triggers an impulse in the deeper parts of the brain, which the limbic system evaluates and then regulates emotional responses, whether it be happiness, sadness or any of many responses we could have. The molecules in the oil are small enough to cross the blood/brain barrier.
It is important to seek a medical professional when dealing with major depression and/or anxiety.
Because essential oils can directly impact the emotional part of our brain, they can play an important part in fighting depression. There are quite a few oils that fit that bill. The following are my top 5 essential oils that may help alleviate depression. Not all oils are the same for everyone. What may help me might not help you, because the oils affect people differently. If you try one and it doesn’t seem to help, there are several more to choose from.
Here are my choices:
Lavender essential oil is probably the best oil to use for depression. It has stress-relieving and mood-lifting benefits. It has benefits mentally and emotionally that can increase your over-all health. It has been used as a calming oil dating back to ancient Rome. To learn more about lavender, read my post here.
Clinical trials were done by the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, using 80 mg lavender oil in capsules. The study concluded that lavender oil can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression. They found no adverse side effects from using it. This is a great thing, since there are so many side-effects with antidepressants.
Bergamot essential oil makes a great antidepressant because of the alpha pinene and limonene it contains. Bergamot is a member of the citrus family and can invigorate the senses. It is a very stimulating oil, increasing energy which improves blood circulation. This oil can also alleviate mental exhaustion and fatigue plus elevate mood levels.
A clinical study in 2011 on rats in Thailand suggested that bergamot has the ability to help reduce anxiety, as a natural remedy. This study showed a decrease in anxiety response in the rats. In another study in 1995, citrus fragrance was given to 12 depressive subjects and “the treatment with citrus fragrance normalized neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune function and was rather more effective than antidepressants”.
And yet another study showed that a blend of lavender and bergamot lowered blood pressure and decreased pulse rate but it also increased feelings of calmness and relaxation. It concluded that “This synergistic blend provides evidence for its use in medicine for treating depression or anxiety in humans.”
Ylang Ylang essential oil is extracted from flowers of the ylang ylang tree. It has a sweet, floral aroma with awesome benefits that help to alleviate symptoms of depression and the negative thoughts associated with depression. The oil has been used to balance the central nervous system and to relax mentally. It also helps to lower blood pressure and regulate breathing.
Research in a study showed that ylang ylang can give “relief of depression and stress in humans.” It is a mild sedative which can lower stress levels and bring a calmness to the mind. Ylang ylang has been known to help with hormonal balance, and hormonal imbalance is a cause of mood swings and depression.
Clary sage is a great essential oil to help fight depression. The oil comes from the leaves and buds of the plant. This plant is native to Europe. The oil has components such as sclareol, linalool, and linalyl acetate, that help promote feelings of hopefulness and confidence, and it is an uplifting oil.
Clary sage has the ability to modify dopamine pathways in the brain, making in an effective antidepressant, as shown in this study. Four essential oils were tested; lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and clary sage. The conclusion was that clary sage had a stronger antidepressant effect than the other three.
It was proven in this study that clary sage can treat depression by increasing serotonin and decreasing cortisol at the same time. Also in this study the thyroid stimulating hormone was reduced.
Chamomile essential oil is a calming, relaxing oil which helps calm the mind and body, which alleviates depression symptoms. It has destressing components such as alpha-pinene, myercene, and beta-pinene. All these help to relieve stress and improve the mood.
There are many health issues Chamomile essential oil can be used for and anxiety and depression are two of them. In this review found in the National Library of Medicine, Chamomile is being used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety. The review also states that inhalation of chamomile essential oil is recommended to relieve anxiety and general depression.
How To Use These Oils For Depression
Here are some recipes and ways these oils can be used to help in the fight against anxiety and depression.
Direct Inhalation (Applies To All Oils)
Rub 2-3 drops bergamot (or any of these oils) into your hands and while cupping mouth and nose, breath in the oil slowly.
Any of these oils can be directly inhaled from the bottle.
Put a few drops on a cotton ball and inhale directly.
Make your own personal inhaler, adding several of your favorite oils or just one.
Before going to bed, add lavender oil to diffuser, and diffuse while sleeping.
Add 3 drops ylang ylang, 6 drops lavender and 1 drop bergamot to diffuser and diffuse during the day.
Add 3 drops Bergamot and 2 drops of lavender to diffuser to help improve mood.
Add a few drops of Chamomile(or any of these oils) to the diffuser to help relax.
Mix a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil and rub the blend behind the ears and on wrists to promote emotional balance.
Blend ylang ylang with carrier oil and apply on chest or on wrists to balance emotions.
Rub a few drops of bergamot directly on wrists, feet and stomach to enhance relaxation.
Massage Blend with Lavender and Chamomile
20-30 drops lavender essential oil
20-30 drops chamomile essential
2 oz. grape seed oil
Blend all ingredients into an amber glass jar. Massage into your entire body, 2-3 times per month or massage into hands and neck daily, or massage into the bottoms of your feet before going to bed at night.
Add To Bath
Mix ylang ylang with Epsom salt and pour in bath to soak and relax.
If you add a few drops each of jasmine and clary sage to your bath water, you’ll have a calming, relaxing bath.
Depression is the most common mental disorder, and it affects millions of people around the world. It can cause physical and emotional symptoms that affect your whole way of life. As per the studies I’ve included in this post, essential oils are a great alternative treatment.
Essential oils and depression are a great combination because of the way the oils work in the brain in balancing out the chemistry. The oils are free of side effects and in most cases are perfectly safe. There is a chance of allergic reaction, but that is rare. They are a better alternative than antidepressants. The essential oils I’ve focused on can help you manage your symptoms naturally.
I would love to know if you’ve used any of these for anxiety and/or depression. If you have, please leave a comment below and also if you have any other comments or questions.
As always, thanks for reading!