Can You Use Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression? Here's What the Science Says

By Sher Warkentin in Natural Products

You might use essential oils to scent your home, but did you know they might also have an impact on your physical and mental health? Here are the facts regarding how to use essential oils for anxiety and depression. Note that it is always important to discuss any symptoms of depression and anxiety with your doctor in order to come up with the best plan for your care.

The Science Behind Using Essential Oil for Mental Health

A review of studies involving essential oil published by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concluded that, in two of five studies, patients experienced a reduction of depressive symptoms after inhalation aromatherapy. In addition, five of eight studies on the effects of aromatherapy oils used in combination with massage also showed positive results. While more research is needed, the studies concluded that, overall, aromatherapy has potential to be used as an effective therapeutic option for the relief of depressive symptoms in a range of people.

When it comes to explaining how aromatherapy may work to help ease symptoms, the answer could be all in your head. According to a study published in The Mental Health Clinician, the success of inhalation aromatherapy with essential oils could be due to psychological effects created by olfactory inputs in the parts of the brain associated with emotion and memory. In other words, the scents could be triggering emotional memories of calmness and positivity that lead to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. This could explain, for instance, why you may feel relaxed after taking a bath with a lavender body wash.

Essential oils can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Helpful Essential Oils for Mental Health

The research is limited on the effects of different types of essential oil. However, the studies in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine review involved the use of lavender oil, as well as bergamot, sandalwood, yuzu, and a mixture of rose otto and lavender.

Creating blends is another way to make the most of the mental health benefits of essential oil. For example, as the study published by The Mental Health Clinician explains, the combination of lavender and rose oil helped ease symptoms of anxiety in postpartum women.

How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression

Depending on your preferences, there are a few different ways you can leverage essential oils to help boost your mental well-being, such as with aromatherapy massage or diffusers.

Aromatherapy Massage

As the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine study concludes, aromatherapy massage has shown to be the most effective method of using essential oils for depression. If you don't have time for a daily massage, using oil on your skin is another method. It's important to note that, before using any essential oils topically, you'll want to first dilute them. As the University of Minnesota explains, you should dilute essential oils in a carrier substance, such as a vegetable or nut oil, or water, at no greater concentration than 3 to 5 percent. Dab a few drops of the diluted oil on your wrists, palms, or behind your ears as desired.

Essential Oil Diffusers

There are a lot of different ways you can use essential oils for aromatherapy inhalation. Diffusers are probably the most common. You can find candle-based oil warmers or electric diffusers that send out an aroma mist wherever you place them in the house. I have also found that a wearable diffuser is a great option. For example, I use a diffuser necklace and add a few drops of essential oil to the felt disc inside. The scent usually lasts a full day before I have to add more.

A wearable diffuser makes it easy to take your scent everywhere.

Aromatherapy can be an additional way to care for your mental health. However, ensure that you discuss any anxiety or depression symptoms with your doctor before trying any at-home treatments.

Explore the Yoga and Mindfulness board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest for more ideas on supporting your mental well-being..

Image Sources: Unsplash | Sher Warkentin | Sher Warkentin

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Why It's Good

If you're struggling with feelings of depression or anxiety, essential oils may be a simple, easy way to help alleviate your symptoms.