Depression is an extremely common condition that affect millions of Americans. You could see or talk to somebody on a daily basis and never even know that they suffer from clinical depression. In fact, you could even be suffering from depression yourself without even knowing it.
There are plenty of documented signs and symptoms of depression that allow us to recognize it: sadness, low self esteem, abnormal fatigue, low sex drive, loss of appetite, loss of interest in normal activities, avoiding social situations, and more. Even though this seems like a large list, there are many more ways to recognize depression and these are just a small fraction of signs and symptoms.
The good news is that there is a way to cure yourself of depression, and cure your friends and family members of depression if you suspect they might be suffering from it – and it’s an all-natural solution: essential oils.
How Can Essential Oils Help Depression?
Essential oils have already been proven to elevate mood and balance hormones, according to multiple studies and clinical trials. So how exactly can essential oils do that? The aroma (or smell) of essentials oils enter our body through our olfactory receptors, and are then carried directly to our brain. They can act a little bit like emotional triggers. Every human has something called a lymbic system, which monitors our sensory preceptors and makes us feel certain sensations like pain or pleasure, happiness or sadness, etc. In turn, this forms our emotional response which could include anger, fear, attraction, or in this case – depression.
Our body relies on hormones to regulate this system, but it requires overall hormonal balance inside our body to work correctly. Every sensory trigger we encounter in life affects our hormonal balance and our emotions, including our sense of smell. Scents and aromas can be very powerful stimuli for regulating our hormonal system since the olfactory receptors are connected directly to the brain. That’s why essential oils are such an effective way to manage emotions, hormones, and depression.
Next we’ll cover the best essential oils for managing depression.
1. Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot oil is extremely stimulating and works as a fantastic natural antidepressant. It can create sensations of energy, freshness, joy, and balance because it increases the circulation of blood. Because of this balancing aspect of bergamot, it also works great as a natural treatment for anxiety. In 2011 a study was carried out on mice in Thailand, which concluded that bergamot oil had the ability to lower anxiety in the mice after they were exposed to pictures of natural predators.
In a separate study from the same year, it was shown that blending bergamot oil with lavender oil also helped reduce symptoms of depression in study participants. Analysis revealed that the bergamot and lavender blend was successful in lower pulse and breathing rates, lowering skin temperature, and reducing blood pressure. Subjects were asked to rate their emotional state on a scale of 1 to 10 for calmness, physical relaxation, anger, and anxiety before and after being exposed to either (a) lavender and bergamot essential oil, or (b) a placebo.
Participants receiving a placebo did not report any significant changes physically, or with their emotional state. Subjects who received the bergamot and lavender blend was the only group to report increased calmness and physically relaxation, with decreased anger and anxiety.
You could also substitute this for rubbing the oils on your feet or diffusing the oil blend over night while you sleep.
2. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil has long been used as a natural way to fight depression, improve mood, and balance hormones. In a 2012 study from the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, it was found that supplementing with 100-milligram capsules of lavender essential oil resulted in the alleviation of depression, anxiety, and anger. There were no reported negative side effects from the use of lavender oil in treatment. Most chemical and synthetic antidepressants are classified as psychotropic drugs and come with many adverse side effects, so using lavender oil is a great alternative.
A second study performed in 2012 was published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice and included 30 women who were considered to be at high risk for postpartum depression. The study concluded that diffusing lavender oil resulted in a statistically significant reduction of postnatal depression. After a 6 week treatment plan of diffusing lavender, it was further found that the subjects who followed the lavender essential oil diffusion treatment experienced almost no symptoms of anxiety disorder – while the subjects who did not stick with the treatment plan exhibited normal levels of anxiety postnatal.
Finally, there was another study that used subjects who reported symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder – also called PTSD. Every subject also reported multiple symptoms of clinical depression before being exposed to lavender oil. The results of the study showed that consistent lavender aromatherapy treatment eliminated 50% of depression symptoms in most participants. All participants reported elevated mood and fewer sleep disturbances during the course of the lavender essential oil treatment.
In order to take advantage of the antidepressant benefits of lavender oil, all you need to do is use a standard essential oil diffuser in your room while you sleep at night. This is the same type of treatment that was used in the above referenced studies. Additionally, you can rub lavender oil behind your ears any time of day for an instant uplift.
3. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
You’ve probably seen chamomile listed as an ingredient in candles and aromatherapy products, as an ingredient in tea, as a tincture, or in essential oil blends. This is because chamomile is an excellent herb for reducing stress and increasing relaxation, and has numerous medicinal benefits. The essential oil extracted from chamomile is very concentrated and has an extremely pleasant aroma.
When it comes to depression, chamomile oil works by promoting relaxation throughout the entire body. Rubbing chamomile essential oil on the bottoms of your feet will give a whole-body sense of calmness and help reduce muscle tension. Although depression is a neurological condition, physical stimulants can play a role in reducing depression symptoms.
Research published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Pharmacology Review concluded that inhaling chamomile vapor and/or steam is an effective way to ease feelings of anxiety and treat general depression.
4. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Inhaling the aroma of ylang ylang oil is one of the quickest ways to fend off feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, or mood swings. Simply inhaling ylang ylang from the bottle will have an immediate uplifting effect on your mood and helps balance hormonal production in your body. Clinical research has shown that ylang ylang helps reduce or eliminate feelings of anger, depression, and low self esteem.
Why does this work? It turns out that ylang ylang is a naturally occurring mild sedative. Once inhaled and processed by your olfactory senses, your brain signals for the release of hormones that immediately cause a reduction of stress and relaxes the muscles.
A Closer Look At Depression Statistics
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a survey conducted in 2013 uncovered that clinical depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States, ranking third among other common disorders. The survey respondents were equally distributed across all ages, races, and income brackets.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization determined that major depression imposes the largest burden of disability when ranked against other common mental disorders. There are over 16 million adults today, aged 18 and older, that have reported at least one significant depressive event in the past year alone. This represents roughly 7% of all adults in the US.
Over 10 million adults adults today have been diagnosed with at least one serious mental illness (SMI) in the last year. Adults between the ages of 25 and 50 were most likely to have been diagnosed with at least one SMI – 1 out of every 5 adults in that age bracket to be exact. Women were found to be 30% more likely to experience a depressive episode than men.
Clearly, depression is a serious issue that affects a large portion of the population.
What causes depression? Factors that can cause the onset of major and clinical depression is wide ranging, but include chronic stress, hormonal imbalances, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol, toxins, and even food allergies.
The most common way patients are treated for depression is by prescription medications. The problem is that most prescription medications for depression come with serious side effects like weight gain, personality changes, worsened depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.
A prominent government study published in the Washington Post found that prescription antidepressant medications were plain ineffective and failed to improve symptoms in over half of all patients treated in a clinical setting. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or notice signs in somebody else, please note that seeking professional advice from a medical professional is still appropriate. However, essential oils and aromatherapy have been proven to reduce classic signs and symptoms of depression and they come with zero negative or adverse side effects.
Here’s an example:
In 2008, a study done with 70 hospice patients concluded that essential oils were an extremely effect treatment for depression. Half of all subjects were given hand massages once per day for a week. The massages used an essential oil blend consisting of almond oil as a base, along with several drops (each) of:
The other half of subjects were given hand massages with no essential oils.
The results showed that 80% of patients who received the essential oil massage reported reduced symptoms of depression, post-treatment, compared with only 50% of patients who received a normal hand massage.
How You Can Use Essential Oils For Depression
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, here’s how you can use essential oils to help.
Using the essential oils we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you can:
- Diffuse these oils over night while you sleep
- Rub these essential oils behind your ears, on the back of your beck, or on the bottoms of your feet before bed
- Inhale the aroma directly from the bottle or from a personal steam diffuser
Here is another recipe you can try.
- First mix these ingredients together in a small glass dish or jar
- Next, massage these into your hands, feet, or bring it to a massage session with a licensed masseuse and ask him/her to use it during your massage
- Carry a small bottle with you during the day, and periodically inhale the aroma from the bottle
- Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression then you should seek professional medical advice as part of a balanced treatment.
- Always perform a patch test before exposing any essential oils directly to your skin. This means placing a single drop on the inside of your arm and watch for any immediate skin reaction.
- The best essential oils to combat depression are bergamot, ylang ylang, roman chamomile, and lavender.
- Depression is a serious problem, and essential oils offer an all-natural and effective treatment with zero side effects.