In clinical trials, essential oils have been proven to elevate mood. You may be wondering how essential oils work. Because smells are carried directly to the brain, they serve as emotional triggers. The limbic system evaluates the sensory stimuli, registering pleasure, pain, danger or safety. This then creates and ultimately directs our emotional response, which can include feelings of fear, anger, depression and attraction.
Our basic emotions and hormonal balance are in response to the most basic smells. This makes scents very powerful in our day-to-day lives because they’re a direct pathway to memory and emotion — which is why they can fight depression and anxiety. Here are my top for essential oils for depression:
Bergamot oil is a great antidepressant because it’s very stimulating. Bergamot can create a feeling of joy, freshness and energy by improving the circulation of your blood. It’s also shown the ability to work as a natural remedy for anxiety, as a 2011 study in Thailand found that bergamot lowered the anxiety response in rats. (1)
Another 2011 study hypothesizes that applying a blended essential oil that includes bergamot to participants helps treat depression. The blended essential oil mixed bergamot with lavender essential oil, and participants were analyzed based on their blood pressure, pulse rates, breathing rates and skin temperature. In addition, subjects had to rate their emotional condition in terms of relaxation, vigor, calmness, attentiveness, mood and alertness in order to assess behavioral changes.
Compared with the placebo, blended essential oil caused significant decreases of pulse rate and blood pressure. At the emotional level, subjects in the blended essential oil group rated themselves as “more calm” and “more relaxed” than subjects in the control group. The investigation demonstrates the relaxing effect of a mixture of lavender and bergamot oils, and it provides evidence for its use in medicine for treating depression or anxiety in humans. (2)
You can use bergamot oil by rubbing two to three drops into your hands and cupping your mouth and nose. Breathe in the oil slowly. Try rubbing the oil on your feet and stomach, too.
Lavender oil benefits mood and has long been used to help battle depression. A study published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice reported that 80-milligram capsules of lavender essential oil can help alleviate anxiety and depression. The study also showed that there were no adverse side effects from using lavender oil to treat anxiety and depression. This is great news since we know that synthetic medications and psychotropic drugs often have many negative side effects. (3)
A 2012 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice evaluatd 28 women at high risk for postpartum depression and found that by diffusing lavender in their home, they had a significant reduction of postnatal depression and reduced anxiety disorder after a four-week treatment plan of lavender aromatherapy. (4)
Yet another study showcasing that lavender aromatherapy improves mood was done on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can result in depression. Lavender had amazing results, showing signs of enhanced moods. The results revealed that the lavender oil, when used daily, helped decrease depression by 32.7 percent and dramatically decreased sleep disturbances, moodiness and overall health status in 47 people suffering from PTSD. (5)
To relieve stress and improve sleep, put a diffuser by your bed and diffuse oils while you sleep at night or in the family room while you’re reading or winding down in the evening. Also, it can be rubbed topically behind your ears for the same benefits.
3. Roman Chamomile
Chamomile is one the best medicinal herbs for fighting stress and promoting relaxation. This is why you see chamomile as a popular ingredient in candles and other aromatherapy products, whether in tea, tincture or essential oil form.
Chamomile benefits your emotions by providing soothing qualities to help with depression. According to research from Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Pharmacognosy Review, inhaling chamomile vapors using chamomile oil is often recommended as a natural remedy for anxiety and general depression. (6, 7)
4. Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang may have a funny name, but it has amazing benefits for helping stave off depression and negative emotions associated with depression. Inhaling ylang ylang can have immediate, positive effects on your mood and act like a mild, remedy for depression. Research shows it can help release negative emotions such as anger, low self-esteem and even jealousy! (8)
Ylang ylang works because of its mild sedative effects, which can lower stress responses helping you relax. To enhance confidence, mood and self-love, try diffusing the oil in your home or massaging it into your skin
Also published on Medium.