How to Use Essential Oils for Depression

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Whether you keep a bottle of your favorite blend at your desk or rely on your diffuser to help you sleep, essential oils have been proven to have a multitude of benefits for our daily lives. Having been around for an estimated 2,500 years, these oils have helped people through a number of ailments.

Essential oils and aromatherapy are widely regarded for their healing properties, and have been known to help sadness and depression. By surrounding yourself in atmospheres that are cheerful, uplifting, soothing and calming, the negative symptoms of depression can be lessened significantly.

Read on to see how essential oils can help depression, or skip to the infographic below to see the best blends for beating the blues. Don’t forget to check out the printable bullet journal mood tracker to observe how using essential oils can help improve your mood!

What Essential Oils are Good for Depression?

Though a wide variety of scents have been proven to boost your mood, the following 12 have been shown to help significantly lift feelings of sadness, apathy and other symptoms of depression.

1. Bergamot

This citrusy scent found in Earl Grey tea has been shown to balance hormones and act as an antidepressant, and was even shown to calm anxiety in a 2011 study. As a bonus, this is a particularly energizing scent that has been known to increase energy flow and blood circulation. Studies have also shown that a blend of bergamot and lavender essential oils, when applied to the temples, can lower feelings of depression and anxiety.

How to use: The most effective ways to expose yourself to the bergamot scent is through diffusing or applying topically on wrists and/or feet.

2. Grapefruit

Another citrusy, uplifting scent, this oil has been known to invigorate the senses, as well as energize the body and mind. It has also been shown to be a positive scent to breathe in when experiencing mental fatigue or exhaustion, and to lift the mood of anyone feeling bleak.

How to use: To give yourself a mini break, breathe this scent in through a diffuser or add some drops to your bath for a therapeutic experience.

3. Lavender

A fan-favorite amongst aromatherapists, this oil is widely recognized and loved for its calming abilities, with usage linked back to Roman civilizations. This herbaceous scent has shown abilities in studies to combat mild depression, ward off insomnia and ease anxious feelings.

How to use: To reap the many benefits lavender essential oil offers, diffuse this oil before going to bed or apply topically on the wrists and behind the ears.

4. Patchouli

Associated with head shops and nature lovers, this earthy scent has shown to be a mood-lifter, along with having the ability to replace negative feelings with positive ones. Inhaling this scent triggers the release of both dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which is directly linked to feelings of happiness and positivity.

How to use: To boost your mood when you need it, inhale this scent directly from the bottle or diffuse around your room to create an energizing atmosphere.

5. Sandalwood

This oil has a warm, woody scent that has been known to increase both focus and mental clarity, making this the ideal scent to meditate with. This scent has shown to have a therapeutic effect on the limbic system, while having sedative effects that both calm the mood and enhance quality of sleep.

How to use: To enjoy the benefits this oil has to offer, incorporate this scent into your next massage or diffuse in your bedroom before getting some shut-eye.

6. Ylang-Ylang

In addition to being one of the primary ingredients in the legendary Chanel No. 5 perfume, this sweet, floral aroma has been linked to stopping the flow of negative thoughts that depression can induce. This bright scent has also been shown to be a mild sedative, having calming effects that lower stress levels.

How to use: To see what this scent can do for you, diffuse this during a stressful time or apply to pulse points to help ease negative thoughts.

7. Sage

An aromatic and herbaceous scent, this oil cements itself as a powerful antidepressant by triggering dopamine release in the brain, which leads to increased positivity and confidence. This oil has also been known to invoke calmness and relaxation, while reducing feelings of anxiety and fear.

How to use: To replace negative feelings with positive ones, treat yourself to a therapeutic bath by adding drops of sage oil in or apply topically to pulse points.

8. Orange

Citrus scents are known to have powerfully energizing qualities, and the orange essential oil is no different. This oil has potent antidepressant properties, known to be energizing and increase feelings of happiness, energy levels and overall mood. A 2013 study found the scent of orange to lower cortisol levels, which eases feelings of anxiety and stress.

How to use: To energize and excite your senses, inhale this scent directly from the bottle or diffuse in the mornings for a pleasant wakeup.

9. Roman Chamomile

Not just for a relaxing cup of tea, this essential oil is widely regarded for having numerous calming, relaxing effects on the body and mind. This floral, aromatic scent can help fight insomnia and help users sleep, and was shown in a 2012 study to have antidepressant-like effects. .

How to use: To see how Roman Chamomile can help you, add some drops to your next bath or to your diffuser when getting ready for bed.

10. Turmeric

This oil derived from a root with serious antioxidant properties is a proven one for helping with symptoms of depression. A 2014 study found long-term exposure to turmeric oil to be just as effective in reducing symptoms of depression as Prozac, a popular antidepressant.

The main component of turmeric is a chemical called curcumin, which may help lift the brain’s levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF), which causes depression. Curcumin has been observed to also boost levels of dopamine and serotonin, which boosts the mood and positivity.

How to use: To reap all the benefits turmeric can offer, add drops to your diffuser or incorporate into a massage with your favorite lotion.

11. Basil

Rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, this oil can calm the nervous system, reduce stress and inflammation and even lower blood pressure. It has been linked to being able to increase mental clarity and assist in overwhelming moments of stress or anxiety.

How to use: To obtain the best results, massage this oil onto your temples or diffuse during stressful times.

12. Jasmine

This oil extracted from the jasmine flower has been observed to have a calming and mildly sedative effect, doing wonders for easing anxious feelings, thoughts and stress. In addition, this aromatic scent has shown to stimulate the brain, helping to boost the mood and feelings of happiness. In fact, a 2011 study found the scent of jasmine to be “as calming as valium.”

How to use: To calm anxious feelings during times of stress, inhale this scent directly from the bottle or apply topically to pulse points.

How to Use Essential Oils for Depression

To best reap the benefits that essential oils offer to symptoms of depression, there are five ways experts recommend to apply.

1. Inhale Directly From the Bottle

A no-frills way to get some essential oils into your system is by directly inhaling the scent from the bottle. The sense of smell is directly linked to the brain’s limbic system, so this is a quick way to get a calming energy boost when you’re feeling low.

2. Add to a Bath

To get your whole body in on the action, add a few drops of your favorite oil to your next bath for a relaxing soak. This has been known to help with insomnia and stress-related symptoms of depression, as water and heat increase absorption rates and allow your whole self to relax.

Experts at the Alliance of Aromatherapists recommend avoiding potentially irritating oils in baths, such as peppermint, citrus or spice oils. The recommended dilution is six to eight drops of oil per bath for an adult.

3. Apply Topically

When applied directly to the skin, essential oils are known to have a variety of health, well-being and beauty benefits. Some oils have even been linked to having anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, in addition to the myriad of mental health benefits they provide.

Before applying all over, do a patch test with the oil on an area of skin for 24 hours, and discontinue if irritation occurs. When applying topically, be sure to mix the oil in with a carrier oil and not apply directly to your skin. The recommended dilution is three to six drops of oils per ounce of carrier oil, which can be coconut, jojoba, olive or sweet almond oil.

Citrus oils, such as grapefruit, lemon and orange, have been known to cause photosensitivity. If these are applied topically, experts recommend avoiding the sun and tanning beds for 24 hours after application.

4. Incorporate into Massage

Just like other topical applications, adding essential oils to a massage oil lets your entire body enjoy the many soothing benefits of your favorite essential oils. Add calming oils, such as lavender, jasmine or bergamot for ultimate relaxation.

The Alliance of Aromatherapists recommend adding 12 to 18 drops of oil per ounce of massage oil or lotion.

5. Diffuse and Breathe In

Perhaps the most popular way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, diffusing your favorite oils allows them to permeate an entire space, rather than when you’re only breathing the oils in. This is good practice for times you need to be energized and cheerful, as well as when you’re going to sleep.

How Essential Oils Can Help Depression

Essential oils are generally regarded as a homeopathic and natural alternative to medicine, but there is a scientific backing of how aromatherapy and essential oils can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

Essential oils help ease depression by directly positively affecting the limbic system, or the part of the brain that feels sadness, by crossing the blood/brain barrier.. The scents that help ease symptoms of depression, including lavender, ylang-ylang and patchouli, are therefore directly influencing your brain to feel happier.

If you’re having serious symptoms or feelings of depression, seek help from a medical professional.

Printable Bullet Journal Mood Tracker

Keeping an eye on the highs and lows of your moods will help you track any patterns that occur with your overall good and not-so-good days. Using a bullet journal-inspired printable mood tracker lays your moods out for you, to see if essential oils have been helping or when your moods take a more serious downturn.

Color in the days for your corresponding mood to start grasping the patterns of your moods! Coloring has even been linked to stress relief in adults, so see if this could help you take a breather even after a bad day.

No matter if you diffuse, inhale or soak in these oils, you’ll hopefully notice a difference in your moods once you start incorporating these different scents into your regimen. These recommendations are not meant to serve as medical advice, and ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Sources: Alliance of International Aromatherapists | World Health Organization | UpNature | Yogandha | Sparoom | Natural Living Family | Aroma Foundry

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