7 Uplifting Essential Oils for Depression

Did you know that smell is one of the most powerful senses? Did you realize smell is the only sense that has a direct connection to the brain?

Those are two reasons many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are now exploring the use of essential oils for depression.

In fact, research links our sense of smell directly to certain psychological factors. Smell can affect our moods and emotions. Numerous clinical trials have investigated aromatherapy as a treatment for stress and anxiety.

The use of essential oils dates back to ancient Egypt where they were part of the mummification process. These aromatic compounds have long been used in food preparation and as beauty treatments. Using botanicals as healing agents is a centuries-old practice.

Today the popularity of essential oils in aromatherapy is a practice re-emerging globally.

Essential Oils for Depression

Often referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), studies of depression attempt to shed light on the biology of the disease. The Mayo Clinic lists four main factors that contribute to depression:

  • Biological differences
  • Brain chemistry
  • Hormones
  • Inherited traits

The exact causes of depression are not known. The symptoms of depression vary widely from patient to patient. The result is a long list of medications (pharmaceutical anti-depressants) prescribed by doctors.

None of these medications take into account the link between depression and olfactory insensitivity.

For that reason, there is a growing belief in the positive effects of essential oils for depression.

Here are 7 common essential oils to consider for depression relief.

1) Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender is by far the most common essential oil. It uses are almost too many to mention, including its use in the treatment of PTSD. Its versatility gives it the reputation as the must-have oil to keep in plentiful supply at all times.

From dulling irritability, panic attacks, and nervous stomachs to healing burns and wounds, lavender’s reputation over the last 2,500 years is not to be ignored.

  • Plant Part: For high-quality oil use fresh flowers, not any other parts of the lavender plant
  • Recommended Collection Method: Steam distillation
  • Aromatic Profile: Powdery, floral, light

The most well-known effects of lavender on depression symptoms include: tension relief, reduction of stress and anxiety, and promote restful sleep.

Some recent clinical investigations report a direct therapeutic value of lavender for neurological disorders. Researchers agree more studies are needed, but the body of evidence is growing.

2) Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

A delicate citrus plant cultivated in Italy. If you’ve ever had Earl Grey tea, you’ve tasted bergamot. It gives the tea that distinctive floral note.

  • Plant Part: Rind or peel from the bergamot fruit
  • Recommended Collection Method: Cold pressed; Expression
  • Aromatic Profile: Citrus, spice, with a high floral note

Bergamot is one of the most commonly used essential oils for depression. It has powerful mood enhancing properties and soothes sad and anxious feelings.

Due to its calming benefits, bergamot is frequently used in massage therapy.

Special note: Bergamot creates photosensitivity in the skin. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight after topical applications for at least 12 hours.

In clinical tests, a combination of bergamot, lavender and frankincense oils reduced pain and depression in patients with terminal cancer. One study showed bergamot to have the same effects as diazepam (valium) for relieving anxiety.

3) Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

Translated, Ylang Ylang means “flower of flowers.” It earned this name due to its sweet, floral scent. Obtained from flower petals of the large, tropical tree called the Cananga tree that is native to Indonesia.

  • Plant Part: Star-shaped flower from the tropical Ylang Ylang tree
  • Recommended Collection Method: Steam distillation
  • Aromatic Profile: Sweet, rich, spicy

Like lavender and bergamot, Ylang Ylang offers calming effects and tension relief.

The effectiveness of Ylang Ylang as a sedative is widely accepted in the medical community. One study took it a step further. The study found a direct correlation between Ylang Ylang aroma and reduced blood pressure and heart rate. Both necessary for reducing stress levels.

4) Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)

A scented perennial grass planted for oil production in Indonesia. The grass is used as an eco-friendly method for preventing soil erosion in many countries. The use of vetiver essential oil in Ayurvedic medicine dates back thousands of years.

  • Plant Part: Spongy root mass
  • Recommended Collection Method: Hydro diffusion
  • Aromatic Profile: Sweet, woody, caramel, smoky

This low volatility viscous oil provides deep relaxation and emotional grounding. It has also been successfully used to soothe panic attacks and shock.

It helps with depression and anxiety by calming the nerves and relaxing the mind, which makes it a good addition to a well rounded anti-depression blend.

One specific animal study established the anxiety relieving properties of inhaling vetiver oil. Researchers agree that more studies are needed to discover the exact mechanism involved.

5) Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

This common plant has a noble history. Prescribed by ancient Greeks for everything from headaches, to fever, to feminine issues. Chamomile is considered the most ancient and widely used medicinal plant in the world.

  • Plant Part: Flower
  • Recommended Collection Method: Steam distillation
  • Aromatic Profile: Floral, sweet, herbaceous

Roman chamomile essential oil serves as a natural mood booster that helps reduce feelings of depression.

Investigations into the effectiveness of aromatherapy found benefits from a mixture of lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli oils. The study concluded that “the aromatherapy effectively reduced the anxiety levels and increased the sleep quality.”

6) Frankincense Oil (Boswellia carteri or boswella sacra)

Called “the king of oils” Frankincense is extracted from the resin (and sometimes bark) of Boswellia. Boswellia are types of trees and shrubs found in of Northern Africa, Middle East, and India. There are about 25 known species of Boswellia.

  • Plant Part: Resin from Boswellia carterii, frereana, and sacra
  • Recommended Collection Method: Steam distillation
  • Aromatic Profile: Warm, spicy, clean

Frankincense is revered as a natural remedy for balancing mood. It promotes feelings of peace, relaxation, and satisfaction for a sense of overall wellness in mind and body.

To understand the popularity of essential oils for depression scientists used a blended mixture of frankincense, bergamot, and lavender. They reported positive results for reducing depression and even pain in hospice patients.

7) Rose (Rosa damascena)

The scent of rose is one of those smells that elicits memories of “I love you,” “Congratulations, ” and “I’m Sorry!” Its use as a natural beauty treatment dates back centuries. But the therapeutic benefits of rose are more than a pretty smell or pretty skin.

The popularity of rose essential oils for depression is second only to lavender.

  • Plant Part: Whole flowers and petals
  • Recommended Collection method: Steam distillation
  • Aromatic Profile: Strongly floral, sweet

It is very well-known as a botanical that helps relieve stress and anxiety. Rose oil promotes relaxation and contains certain compounds which promote healing in the body.

Try this Essential Oils Recipe

Recipe for tranquility bath oil:

  • 2 drops of vetiver oil,
  • 2 drops of lavender oil,
  • 4 drops of rose oil,
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of sweet almond oil.
  • Add to a running bath.
  • Relax and inhale the natural calming effects for 10 minutes or more

The uses of essential oils seem almost endless. And beneficial.

For more information on the benefits of essential oils, which oils are best, and how to use them, read my comprehensive post: “Best Essential Oils Review & Guide.”

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Sally

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