In this guide you will discover the top 5 best essential oils to diffuse for depression and anxiety.
You’ll learn how essential oils can help fighting depressive symptoms, the scientific research evidence supporting the use of essential oils to treat depression and anxiety, and why you should consider essential oils instead of anti-depressant pharmacological drugs.
You will then find out more about the best and most effective ways to apply these oils for best results against the symptoms of depression and anxiety, including what dosage to use and frequency of application.
Lastly, I will also share with you the best recipes to combine these oils with other natural essential blends for maximum effect on depression and anxiety symptoms as well as on your sleep quality.
As you will discover in this article, these essential oils have been proven by several medical and research studies to be effective against depressive symptoms and anxiety, if used correctly, and they can significantly improve your general health and quality of life.
However, it is important that you remember that, while these remedies are considered generally safe and effective against depression and anxiety, you should always consult a physician before using any type of essential oils and essential oils blends.
Essential oils for depression and anxiety: What does science say?
Natural remedies have been used for centuries, to help overcoming the issues of depression and anxiety, and to promote better sleep and relaxation. In home medicine essential oils are often used for the treatment of insomnia and to calm anxiety.
The aroma of many essential oil calms, relieves stress and anxiety. It can be useful in the treatment of migraine, the elimination of headaches, depressive conditions and used in cases of excessive nervous tension. The smell of essential oils can eliminate nervous exhaustion, and at the same time it improves mental performance.
This neuroprotective effect on the autonomic nervous system is well researched, so much that many essential oils are often used to treat insomnia and normalize the heart rhythm when it is disturbed (arrhythmia). There have been numerous studies on essential oils involving elderly patients, that have shown a marked improvement in quality of sleep. During the experiments, their hypnotic drugs were replaced with lavender essential oil, which was applied to their pillows. The aroma of lavender oil relaxes so well that often it can replace even the traditional sleeping pills.
With regards to depressive symptoms and essential oils, one systematic review study in particular stands out. The authors of this study collected all the evidence to date on the effectiveness of essential oils against depressive symptoms. Of the twelve studies analyzed in this systematic review, seven showed a significant effect of essential oil for depression and anxiety. This study also found that massage with essential oils is more effective than inhalation to alleviate depressive symptoms.
Why are depression and anxiety such a big threat to good health?
Depression is considered one of the greatest health issue of the 21st century, with about 350 million people suffering worldwide. The prevalence of depression has increased dramatically over the past few years, and the number of depression-related suicides is also growing.
Depressive symptoms are quite varied and include feelings of guilt, anxiety, worthlessness and desperation, inability to experience pleasure, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, lack of energy, poor concentration and memory, motor retardation, fatigue, and recurrent suicidal and death ideation.
These symptoms are typically experienced more or less continuously for at least 2 weeks.
Depression has been associated with lowered immune system, obesity, depression, anxiety, low sex drive, low fertility, cardiovascular disease, and even increased cancer risk.
Why you should consider essential oils for depression instead of anti-depressant drugs
The first line of treatment for depression symptoms is anti-depressant drugs such as MOAs (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors) and serotonine re-uptake inhibitors. The problem with these kinds of treatments is the vast range of side effects experienced by many patients as well as their relative ineffectiveness (as high as 30% of patients do not respond to this treatment). Additionally, those patients who experienced a positive effect, reported a very long treatment time before seeing any results.
On the other hands, essential oils from reputable brands are completely natural and thus virtually side effects-free, if combined properly and following recommended dosage. The effects of essential oils on depressive symptoms still need to be completely investigated, but the studies conducted so far are showing promising results. It is believed that essential oils could be even more effective than conventional anti-depressants as their full potential is still to be understood. Essential oils are also inexpensive compared to pharmacological solutions, making it a convenient solutions to treat several conditions, including depression.
Top 5 Best Essential Oils For Depression and Anxiety – 2020 Update
In the table below I have listed the top 5 essential oils for depression and anxiety, their best applications ranked by effectiveness and the recommended carrier oil to use
|Essential oil||Best for||Carrier oil|
|Lavender||depression, anxiety, relaxation||Jojoba oil|
|Spikenard||anxiety, depression||Coconut oil|
|Cedarwood||depression, relaxation||Almond oil|
|Valerian||depression, anxiety, relaxation||Jojoba oil|
In addition to the 5 above, other essential oils that have shown significant results against depressive symptoms are: bergamot, petitgrain, Yuzu and rose otto.
Top 5 Best Essential Oils For Depression and Anxiety: In Depth Review
The powerful natural chemicals contained in these oils act by balancing out your hormone levels and help bringing harmony and balance to your body, mind and spirit. I will now dive a little deeper into the features of the 5 best essential oils for depression that I have picked, so that you can fully understand where their amazing natural powers are coming from.
Among all the essential oils for depression and anxiety, lavender oil is the one that shows the highest efficacy in most clinical studies so far. If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, emotional stress, or lack of mental clarity, lavender is your number 1 choice. You cannot go wrong by choosing lavender essential oils thanks to its calming properties that have been used for centuries to soothe the human mind and spirit.
Extracted by distillation from the flowers of lavender, this oil is rich in anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective compounds called terpenes, with linalool and linalyl acetate accounting for most of the total amount.
Lavender is an all time favorite essential oils because of its sweet and “soft” aroma that blends well with any base oil, and that can also be used to counter the bitterness of other essential oils such as those from citrus or mint
Spikenard oil is extracted by a flowering plant of the valerian family. Aromatherapists recommend spikenard oil for its amazing anti-stress, anti-depressant and calming properties. It has a high concentration of sesquiterpenes, which are natural chemicals with neuroprotective and neuroenhancing properties. It has a strong musky scent that some people might find too intense, although it’s easy to get used to with time, and even learning to appreciate.
Aside for its wonderful skincare abilities, Vetiver is also known to be used as anti-insomniac, as it can promote deep sleep and profound relaxation. Similarly to Spikenard, Vetiver is high in sesquiterpenes, of which vetiverols make up most of the relative abundance. It is very useful to achieve balance and harmony if used in the long-term. However, because of its thick and strong smell, it’s best combined with an oil of “softer” fragrance such as lavander or Roman chamomile. Dilution in coconut oil can also help taming the “heaviness” of its scent.
A very special oil – one of my absolute favorite – that has amazing, somehow “mystical” properties, and this is why it is often used to aid meditative states and to achieve optimal body/mind/spirit balance. It works wonders to cure the symptoms of depression and anxiety as its mechanism of action balances out hormones in your bloodstream by promoting the release of melatonin.
As most essential oils, Cedarwood is rich in terpenes, which are responsible for a wide array of health benefits. This oil has also a sharp woody-like earthy scent that many users have found pleasant and refreshing.
The relaxing and sedative properties of valerian have been known for centuries. Its mechanism of action has not been fully understood, but many of its components belong to the GABA(gamma-aminobutyric acid)-analogs family, and especially valerenic acids which have sedative properties similar to those of benzodiazepamines. The downside of valerian oil is the unfavorable smell, which makes it overall a less pleasant choice compared to “softer” fragrances such as chamomile or cedarwood oil, although the oil can be blended with other oils to
How to use essential oils for depression and anxiety
We’ve now learned that the neuroprotective and calming properties of natural essential oils can go a long way in treating the symptoms of depressiona nd anxiety.
There are essentially three ways you can use essential oils for sleep quality and balance. Those are diffusion, topical use, and misting spray.
Massage for depression
Surprisingly, most studies have shown that massage using essential oils will result in a much more significant anti depression effect compared to inhalation. Let’s find out more about this procedure.
If you need the essential oil treatment for yourself, you should get a professional masseuse to perform the massage as some of the techniques recommended by experts require some level of training. Alternatively, you can ask a family member, friend or partner to kindly perform the massage. Show them this article or instruct them using the following guidelines.
To perform a massage using essential oils for depression, you will need to mix your favorite essential oil from the 5 listed above to the recommended carrier oil such as jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil. Use a 2-3% dilution (2-3 drops of essential oils in approximately 10 ml of carrier oil).
The massage areas described in studies showing positive results against depressive symptom include: back, neck, shoulders, arms, back, and legs.
You can also apply the lotion to key areas such as wrists, upper chest, bottoms of the feet, forehead, behind the ears, on the mastoid bone or on the back on the neck. These are all vital areas with high levels of nerve and blood supply. which are believed to be particularly responsive to the essential oil treatment.
The recommended massage frequency is 6–8 sessions weekly for 40 min to 1 h per massage session. This is also the recommended duration used in the studies in which beneficial effect of essential oils was observed to be beneficial for depression and anxiety.
Based on this recommended guideline, you could choose to have either:
A) 1 massage session a day, 7 days a week
B) 2 massage sessions a day, 3 days a week and rest during the remaining days o the week.
Regardless of the weekly frequency, the minimum total duration of the essential oils massage anti depression should be at least 4 weeks, again based on the results shown by studies that have proven a significant effect against depression symptoms.
When the depression and anxiety symptoms start fading away, make sure you do not interrupt the massage treatment suddenly. Stick with the essential oils massage for another 2 weeks, and then start decreasing the frequency. Once the symptoms are under control, it would still be beneficial to have 1 essential oils massage every 2 weeks, as this can help prevent future episodes of depression or anxiety.
Although not as effective as massage, inhalation by diffusion is undoubtedly the easiest way to use essential oils for depression. Simply pour a few drops of any of these essential oils shown above in your diffuser before you go to bed. Inhale the oils for 15 in the morning and 15 before bedtime. You can also use homemade or pre-made blends to maximize results or improve their fragrance to meet your tastes or needs.
The inhaled air containing essential oils for depression will reach the circulation system via the blood capillary network in the nose and the bronchi in the lungs and will also stimulate brain areas directly via the olfactory epithelium.
This method can be combined with the massage to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Lastly, you can make an anti-depressant spray simply by adding 20 drops of any of the above blends (or oils) to a 100mL spray bottle filled with purified water. Mist the solution on pillows, bed sheets, linings, curtains, or anywhere else you find appropriate in your bedroom.
This is the least effective among the three methods of essential oils delivery for the purpose of reducing the symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Recipes With The Best Essential Oils For Depression And Anxiety
…And to conclude, find below some of my favorite homemade blends with the best essential oils for depression and anxiety. These blends work well for topical use with massages but also for inhalation with diffusers and misting spray.
2 drops Cedarwood, 1 drop Vetiver, 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavander. Best carrier oil: almond oil.
In a nutshell
I hope I have convinced you that natural essential oils can drastically reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety with minimal side effects and affordably. Initial research on essential oils for depression has shown very promising results, and even though more studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of these oils , the future looks very bright!
Give my blends a try for your massage or add them to your diffuser. I’m sure they will lighten your mood and improve your symptoms! Aside from depression and anxiety, these essential oil blends can have a huge positive impact on your overall quality of life by improving your mood, sleep, concentration, focus, and clarity of mind. Just make sure you read the safety instructions carefully, and always dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil when preparing essential oils blends.
Once again, remember that this article does NOT replace medical advice and that you should always consult your physician before using essential oils for depression, anxiety or any other health or cosmetic purpose.
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