Wondering About Essential Oils for Depression? Read On:
Why Essential Oils for Depression?
Depression, both mild and moderate, may cause you to seek alternative or complementary therapies. An excellent choice for treatment, natural remedies are beneficial; they often are free from the adverse long-term side effects that can occur with pharmaceutical medications. They are also versatile, a vast array of reasons exist behind your feelings of depression and increased negative outlook.
[***This article was originally published in 2011 but has been updated in 2019.]
Moreover, once you are depressed, patterns sometimes arise that make relief difficult. Using the variety of bright aromas of essential oils for depression—especially for uplifting the psyche and spirit—is becoming more widespread because of their broad, safe, and dramatic effects. While the oils themselves may not directly affect the underlying cause of depression (though they may if the reason is health-related), they can help individuals break free from depressive cycles—they may provide the impetus to 'get off the couch,' so to speak, and begin creating long-lasting change.
How Do Essential Oils for Depression Work?
Clinical research has shown that natural, pure essential oils stimulate multiple regions in the brain, including those controlling endocrine, immune, and limbic (emotional center) functions. Essential oils have a direct and profound effect on the deepest levels of the body, emotions, and psyche. Through inhalation, essential oils have a strong and immediate influence.
Passing through the capillary beds of the sinuses and activating the olfactory nerves, the oils' vapor, produces direct and powerful effects—the most immediate being on the emotions. Our emotions and our sense of smell have powerful ties—perhaps more than with any other of the other four senses. It is said that your body will react to smell on a physiological level (excitement, sedation, etc.) before you can even think about it!
In both Naturopathy and Ayurvedic Medicine, essential oils are considered to enhance the flow of critical life force (the 'Chi') and brighten mental clarity and luminosity. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, essential oils, in general, are medicines for the Shen, the spiritual essence that resides in the heart. Essential oils positively enhance mental and emotional states when used consciously. Further, the medicinal properties of essential oils, through their ability to support healing of the physical body, can also be of great benefit to the heart and mind. A study on the effect of aromatherapy on pain in patients with arthritis found that receiving a massage with essential oils significantly decreased both the pain and depression levels.
What Essential Oils Are Best Used for Depression?
Following are some oils that have a reputation for positively affecting Chi and Shen, directly influencing the state of the psyche and emotions. These oils can be used alone or in combination in a diffuser (nebulizers or cold-air diffusers are best), or in aromatherapy massage, thereby inhaled and absorbed through the skin concurrently.
Bergamot (pressed from the peels of bitter oranges) has a strong reputation for its ability to uplift the mind and emotions. In terms of Chinese medicine, this is a direct result of its smoothing the flow of liver-Chi, the liver is thought of as the seat of the eternal soul. Bergamot can both relax the nerves and invigorate the spirit; it is suitable for many types of depressive states. Sweet orange, a close relative, works similarly, with a slightly more pleasing aroma.
Neroli distilled from the flowers of the tree producing the Bergamot fruit, also regulates the Chi—and like Jasmine oil—inspires a feeling of comfort. Neroli is called for where the depression is a result of nervous and emotional exhaustion. Neroli also assists in retrieving and releasing repressed emotions. Neroli is additionally indicated for individuals who, to escape from emotional pain and suffering, cut themselves off from their feelings and senses.
Chamomile is lovely to use when the depression manifests in a moody, irritable, dissatisfied outward expression—generally 'cranky'—associated with stagnant liver chi. This flower oil is earthy, rich, and grounding with subtle uplifting qualities. It is best used in a blend with other oils, subtly enhancing the depression-relieving effect.
When depression is of a Fire (overly aggressive) nature, it often involves an imbalance of (or distinct lack of) joy and love—the root emotions of the heart and mind. Joy is an extension of the spiritual essence's innate sense of harmony and perfection, an experience of emotional and mental well-being. Rose oil may have a profound effect on this state and is thought the premier heart-opening aromatic, bringing joy, uplifting and restoring balance.
The needle and wood oils are particularly appealing to men. Excellent grades of Spruce, Fir and Pine needle oils, Juniper Berry, and woods such as Cedarwood and Sandalwood are both grounding and uplifting. Diffusing these oils alone or in combination creates a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere, and many find these aromas help motivate them in completing otherwise arduous tasks at home or in the office.
Some Essential Oil Recipes to Combat Depression
Here are a few recipes for uplifting and releasing depressed emotional states—use your intuition to find the right one. Most often in the therapeutic use of essential oils, the oil or blend you find most attractive will be the one that serves you best. Experiment, explore, and have fun! These blends may be used in a diffuser or a massage base at 5% concentration (unless where a carrier oil is indicated)—blends with carriers are explicitly intended for aromatherapy massage.
- For opening the heart: 1 part Rose 3 parts Sandalwood 1 part Sweet Orange or Bergamot; also 3 parts Jasmine, 1 part Ylang Ylang, 1 part Sandalwood.
- For brightening, refreshing and uplifting: 3 parts Bergamot, 1 part Ylang Ylang, 1 part Grapefruit; also 2 parts Bergamot, 2 parts Clary Sage, 1 part Frankincense; also 3 parts Bergamot or Sweet Orange, 2 parts Clary Sage 2 parts Frankincense; also 1 part Lemon 1 part either Jasmine or Neroli.
- For nourishing or 'comforting': 1 part (Roman) Chamomile 1 part Vanilla 10 parts in the carrier oil of choice.
- For uplifting and softening with a floral and earthy aroma: 1 part Neroli 1 part Vanilla 1 part Orange 1 part Sandalwood; also 1 part Chamomile 1 part Bergamot 1 part Helichrysum. Single oils can indeed be used as well.
- For depression with negativity, try Bergamot, Chamomile, Helichrysum, Neroli, Orange, or Spikenard.
- If there is a marked lack of joy, try Rose, Jasmine, Melissa, Patchouli, Rosemary or Ylang Ylang.
- If over-thinking and worry are causing blockage, try Cardamom, Frankincense, Lemon, Marjoram, Myrrh or Vetiver.
- For overwhelming regret and remorse, try Clary Sage, Cypress, or Pine.
- For the inability to cope with overwhelming situations, try Rose Geranium, Ginger, Juniper or Thyme.
Essential Oils for Depression, In Conclusion:
While aromatherapy can provide support in many cases, it may not be the answer for everyone. Seek professional assistance in any case where one is losing the will to live or any other seemingly impossible situation. Aromatherapy can be used concurrently with other treatments, and is likely to enhance the effectiveness of different antidepressant therapies; one should consult their caregiver to ensure there are no contraindications with any prescribed medication.
Young Living Essential Oil Bergamot - Item Code #3563
Young Living Essential Oil Neroli - Item Code #3088
Young Living Essential Oil Cedarwood - Item Code #3509
Young Living Essential Oil Rose - Item Code #3623
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Disclaimer Notice: This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. This information has not been evaluated by the Federal Food & Drug Administration.