essential oils for depression

The Efficacy of Essential Oils in the Treatment of Depression

Depressive disorders are becoming a more common occurrence with each passing year. While conventional treatment does exist for these conditions, using a more holistic approach tends to be simpler and quite effective in some cases. Using essential oils for depression can produce amazing benefits.

Before exploring the antidepressant properties of any essential oil blend and its ability to treat anxiety symptoms, a wide range of depressive disorders, and other mental illnesses, you should first know exactly what these substances are.

With a clear understanding of how the plant extracts used in the creation of these oils for depression work, you can more accurately determine what’s best for your mental health.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are substances that are used in various forms of aromatherapy. As one of many types of natural remedies, the plant extracts used to make essential oils help foster physical and emotional health.

Lavender essential oil, jojoba oil, sage oil, and the various other oil blends used in this practice are extracted through either distillation or cold-pressing processes.

After the raw plant extracts have been obtained, they are then mixed with carrier oils. At this point, your essential oil blend should be ready for application.

Essential Oils for Depression

There’s a common belief that while these natural remedies serve the same purpose broadly speaking, certain oil blends work better when used as a complementary treatment for specific conditions. We’ll be delving into this in greater detail shortly.

However, more research needs to be conducted in this area to further highlight just how they work.

Here’s what to expect when using essential oils as a complementary treatment for depression.

essential oils for depression

Efficacy of Aromatherapy in the Treatment of Depressive Disorder

Currently, it’s estimated that 43% of individuals suffering from depressive disorders opt to use natural remedies to curtail the acute effects of their condition.

When it comes to the effectiveness of aromatherapy specifically, there hasn’t been a significant study on just how well it works. But, so far, the available data shows that the efficacy of aromatherapy in treating stress and anxiety disorders is quite high.

When used in conjunction with other natural remedies, it has a wide range of amazing benefits for people with depression and other anxiety symptoms.

However, to fully judge the effectiveness of the application of aromatherapy to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders has proven to be quite challenging.

This is because it’s difficult to conduct inhalation aromatherapy studies effectively. The scents and smells of this alternative therapy make it more challenging to get blinded studies free of bias. As such, most inhalation aromatherapy studies end up quite inconclusive.

That being said, studies on the use of essential oils in aromatherapy massage sessions have shown more conclusive results.

While the effectiveness of aromatherapy massage has been established, it was discovered that the emotions and health benefits it offered in people with emotional stress and generalized anxiety disorder lasted only for the duration of the massage.

Application of Aromatherapy for Treatment of Depression

Before you continue with this line of action to treat mild or severe symptoms of depression, please keep in mind that the use of essential oils is only considered to be a complementary therapy, at best.

Put differently, conventional treatment of symptoms of anxiety and severe or moderate depression should not be minimized even when supplementing this treatment with aromatherapy.  Don’t replace or substitute your conventional treatment plan for aromatherapy modalities.

Having established this, here’s how you can use essential oils for the treatment of depression or depressive episodes.

You can choose to either let the essential oil blend permeate the area around you or inhale the scent directly. Either of these application methods for aromatherapy should yield positive effects.

Application Methods for Essential Oils

When using essential oils to treat depression and mood disorders, some reliable methods you can use include:

Method 1

Add a few drops of jojoba oil or lavender essential oil to the water in your diffuser. You can let this evaporate and then inhale the air to help you dispel negative emotions and anxiety symptoms.

Method 2

Put a few drops of your preferred essential oil blend on a cotton ball or tissue. Then, you can inhale directly or allow it to dissipate into the air as one of the many treatment options for depression.

Method 3

Alternatively, you can get some of the positive effects of bergamot essential or lavender oil with the aid of steaming water. Here, all you have to do is add a few drops of the oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel, and then position your face over the bowl.

Next, inhale the scents from the bottled blend at a steady breathing rate for a few minutes and the anxiolytic-like effects of the oil will kick in.

Method 4

If you want, you can also make your application of aromatherapy a mobile affair. You can achieve this by adding the essential oil to a basic inhaler which you can carry around with you as necessary.

5 Essential and Massage Oils to Consider

Now that you know how to get the antidepressant-like effects of aromatherapy, you need to choose the right essential oil blend for your specific situation.

As you’re likely aware, there are many different types of essential and massage oils out there. However, not many of these contain the chemical compounds needed to elicit an antidepressant effect.

To help make your search easier, here’s a list of essential oils for depression whose antidepressant properties have been backed, to a certain degree, by research.

Roman Chamomile

This essential oil blend has many beneficial effects to offer when it comes to promoting relaxation and helping your body ward off stress-induced depression.

Whether in essential oil, tea, or tincture form, roman chamomile initiates a strong antidepressant effect and a wide range of anxiolytic effects in the body.

This is one of many reasons why it’s considered among the most potent natural remedies and complementary therapies for treating generalized anxiety disorder, negative emotions, and symptoms of anxiety.

According to a study, the vapors produced by chamomile have minimal adverse effects and promote emotional health and well-being.

essential oils for depression

Ginger Oil

This essential oil blend is also good for alleviating emotional stress and moderate depression.

Its impact on brain health in particular has been noted. A study conducted in 2011 showed that it was capable of protecting the brain from damage due to emotional stress. The study also suggested that ginger oil plant extracts might also have beneficial effects on memory impairment as well.

In another animal study, the administration of ginger oil extracts noticeably relieved symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

essential oils for depression

Bergamot Essential Oil

Not many essential oil blends have received the level of attention that bergamot has been able to garner. A large part of this is likely due to its highly stimulating chemical compounds.

One study confirmed that it was able to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in rats. The natural remedy has also been shown to boost energy levels and exert beneficial effects on blood flow and heart rate.

Another controlled study revealed that this essential oil blend displayed the efficacy of aromatherapy to the fullest. The effect of bergamot promoted emotional health, better relaxation, and regulated skin temperature.

essential oils for depression

Ylang Ylang Oil

This is another essential oil blend that has a wide range of potential health benefits. Most noted for its antidepressant effects, inhaling its plant extracts can promote better emotional health, relieve negative emotions, and reduce depressive episodes.

More specifically, exposure to this compound resulted in improved self-esteem and better anger management.

In addition to functioning as a mild sedative, it also fostered strong positive emotions of confidence, self-love, and happiness. Administering this blend through any of the methods described earlier won’t impair its efficacy.

essential oils for depression

Lavender Oil

This essential oil is perhaps one of the most popular resources in the category of alternative therapies available today. Valued for its calming and natural scent, lavender oil stimulates the body in various ways.

According to research, some of the many beneficial effects of its plant extracts include reduced stress levels, the promotion of relaxation, and relief from certain mood disorders.

Some studies have also been conducted on how lavender oil influences specific depressive disorders, such as postpartum depression. While further clinical trials are necessary to establish these findings, researchers concluded that depression levels were lower by the end of the study.

Lastly, the positive effects of lavender oil on the nervous system suggest that it may prove useful in treating a wide range of neurological disorders.

essential oils for depression


While much still remains unknown, it’s clear that using essential oils for the treatment of depression is promising. But, even with the efficacy of aromatherapy established to a reasonable extent, make sure that you contact your doctor immediately if you notice increased symptoms of depression or stress.

Once you’re on a treatment plan, you can then work with your medical practitioner or a licensed and trained aromatherapist to choose the best essential oils to complement your treatment!


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