Depression and Essential Oils

Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?

In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.

Let's face it, we've all been hurdled with the blues at some point in our lives but depression is more than just feeling low, and for some it is a severe disorder that they struggle with every day.

If you or someone you know has one or more of the symptoms below it could very well be a signal for depression and getting help:

  • Constant fatigue and tiredness
  • Insomnia or too much sleep
  • Lack of energy
  • Low sex drive
  • Constant melancholy and sadness that you can't shrug off
  • Feelings of never-ending despair and in severe cases suicidal thoughts
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Irritability and short-temper
  • Inability to concentrate and focus
  • Overwhelming feelings of being weighed down
  • Sense of hopelessness and negative thinking pattern
  • Lack of confidence and low self esteem
  • Decreased or increased appetite including cravings
  • Anxiety and rapid heartbeat
  • Avoiding going out with friends, social situations, or spending time with family
  • Wanting to stay in bed all day

If you answered yes to one or more of the above then you may have depression or be in a depressive state at this time in your life.

So what are the next steps? A visit to your doctor who can assess your individual case is a good start. Depending on the severity of your condition you can turn to medication, alternative treatments or a mix of both.

You might perhaps think that medication is the easy answer to depression, but that's not always the case. Anti-depressant medications come with adverse side effects, are hard to wean off and can at times make the condition worse. Using natural and alternative treatments or complementing a low dose of medication with these treatments can help control depression symptoms and keep your mood in check.

Aromatherapy using essential oils is scientifically proven to help elevate mood, alleviate the symptoms of depression and prevent future episodes.

HOW DO ESSENTIAL OILS FOR DEPRESSION WORK?

You might be skeptical about essential oils working for depression, but essential oils can actually affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function, as reported by a study conducted by Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany.

So here's how essential oils for depression actually work - the aromatic molecules present naturally in essential oils can cross the blood/brain barrier and have a direct impact on areas of the brain which control feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.

Biologically speaking, the nerve cells in the nose detect smell and trigger an impulse to the brain through the olfactory nerve which connects to the olfactory bulb. The bulb evaluates the impulse and conveys information about the smell to areas of the brain known as the limbic system. The limbic system is an important section in the brain that helps to control emotions, mood, pain, pleasure and behavior - which in turn affects our emotional responses in the form of happiness, sadness, fear, attraction and more.

This makes essential oils incredibly powerful as the scents they exude can directly affect the limbic system and in turn our memory and emotional response, which is why they can play an extremely important role in fighting depression.

 7 OF THE TOP ESSENTIAL OILS FOR DEPRESSION 

1. LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

Easily one of the more popular essential oils, most people can immediately recognize the lovely aroma of lavender essential oil.  Using lavender to calm can be dated back to the ancient Romans. Research in recent years has proven that lavender can help combat depression, and alleviate insomnia and anxiety.  

A 2012 study evaluated if aromatherapy helps to improve anxiety and/or depression in high-risk postpartum woman. By following a 4-week protocol of diffusing lavender in the home, postnatal depression in the participating women was significantly reduced and the study concluded with positive findings with minimal risk for the use of aromatherapy as a complementary therapy in both anxiety and depression.

Another study was conducted on those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is directly linked to depression. Lavender oil demonstrated incredibly promising results and when used on a daily basis helped decrease depression by 32.7% and also helped to regulate sleep and improve mood in 47 participating patients with PTSD.  

  • HOW TO USE LAVENDER OIL FOR DEPRESSION:
  1. Diffuse:Put a diffuser in your bedroom and diffuse lavender oil while you sleep at night. This will help improve sleep, calm the body and mind leading to increased focus, clarity and reduced depressive thoughts.
  2. Apply topically:Rub lavender oil behind the ears and on the inside of your wrists to achieve similar results. The medicinal properties of the oil can enter the bloodstream in as little as 5 minutes!
  3. Inhale directly:When feeling low or irritable, simply inhale lavender oil right out of the bottle to instantly relax and feel calm.

2. YLANG YLANG ESSENTIAL OIL

Did you know that ylang ylang is one the main ingredients used in the famous perfume Chanel No. 5? Extracted from the flower petals of the tropical ylang ylang tree, the incredibly sweet and floral aroma of this bright flower has incredible benefits and can help curb the negative thoughts associated with depression.

A 2006 study concluded that the usage of, ylang ylang oil in aromatherapy can cause a relief of depression and stress in humans.

Ylang ylang oil is also known to help promote hormonal balance. This is important since unbalanced hormones are known to cause mood swings, irritability and depression. The oil is also a mild sedative which can help to lower stress levels and promote calmness.

 HOW TO USE YLANG YLANG OIL FOR DEPRESSION:

  1. Apply topically:Rub a few drops of the oil directly on the wrists, neck, feet and behind the ears (trigger points) to improve your mood and reduce feelings of irritability.
  2. Restore hormonal balance: Simply add 6 drops of each in your diffuser to calm and balance the mood. 

3. GRAPEFRUIT ESSENTIAL OIL

When used in aromatherapy grapefruit essential oil can invigorate the senses and is an excellent oil for alleviating mental exhaustion and fatigue. It's intense citrusy scent helps to elevate low moods and energize both the mind and the body. Like other citrus oils, grapefruit oil is proven to normalize neuroendocrine hormone levels as well as improve immune function.

A 1995 study concluded that treatment with the fragrance of citrus oils can be more effective than antidepressants.

 HOW TO USE GRAPEFRUIT ESSENTIAL OIL FOR DEPRESSION:.

1.Use in a diffuser: Add a few drops of grapefruit oil to your diffuser when you need to wrap up a project and can't get yourself to concentrate.

2. Add to your shower:Feeling low? Add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to your shower for instant rejuvenation.

4. BERGAMOT ESSENTIAL OIL

Remember the distinctive taste of earl grey tea? That's the citrusy taste of bergamot. Bergamot essential oil is highly stimulating and contains limonene and alpha pinene which makes it an effective anti-depressant and hormone balancer. It also helps to increase energy flow which improves blood circulation and enhances energy levels, boosting and uplifting the mood.

A 2011 study documented that bergamot essential oil can help reduce anxiety. Another study reported the benefits of creating a blend by combining both lavender essential oil and bergamot essential oil. The blend was applied on the skin and abdomen of 40 participants and the study discovered that the blend not only lowered blood pressure and decreased pulse rate but increased feelings of calmness and relaxation. The study concluded by suggesting that, 'this synergistic blend provides evidence for its use in medicine for treating depression or anxiety in humans.

HOW TO USE BERGAMOT OIL FOR DEPRESSION:
  1. Apply topically:Rub a few drops of bergamot essential oil (or bergamot oil mixed with lavender oil), directly on the wrists, feet and on the stomach to enhance relaxation and elevate your mood.
  2. Diffuse:Add 3 drops of bergamot essential oil and 2 drops of lavender oil to your diffuser to calm and balance the mood. 

5. CLARY SAGE ESSENTIAL OIL

Clary sage essential oil promotes feelings of hopefulness, increases confidence and is a very uplifting oil. In a 2010 study, clary sage oil was proven to be an effective anti-depressant by modifying dopamine pathways in the brain. The oil can also help alleviate feelings of fear and anxiety and evoke feelings of calm and relaxation.

 HOW TO USE CLARY SAGE ESSENTIAL OIL FOR DEPRESSION:

Add to your bath: Add a few drops of clary sage oil along with 2-3 drops lavender oil to your bath. The blend will help to calm the senses and help you feel relaxed.

6.GERANIUM ESSENTIAL OIL

Great for enhancing positive emotions, keeping mood swings under control and alleviating depression, geranium essential oil has natural sedative properties, and can help to enhance sleep quality and calm the body and mind.

Geranium can also aid in curbing feelings of anxiety and help to regulate hormonal imbalances which can trigger depression. As an anti-inflammatory with pain-relieving properties geranium may potentially alleviate bodily aches and pains which are also common amongst depression sufferers. 

HOW TO USE GERANIUM ESSENTIAL OIL FOR DEPRESSION:

Use in a diffuser: Diffuse a few drops of geranium essential oil to relieve feelings of anxiety and elevate positive emotions.

 7.PATCHOULI ESSENTIAL OIL

Patchouli essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the patchouli plant, which is a herb of the mint family. Patchouli is an amazing mood-lifting oil and its pleasant earthy aroma can help to decrease feelings of sadness and hopelessness and replace them with feelings of positivity and hope.

The reason patchouli oil is an effective anti-depressant is because by inhaling it, it can help trigger the release of both seratonin and dopamine, the pleasure hormones in the brain, which can directly alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Research conducted in 2015 suggested that, patchouli oil is used to relieve depression, stress, calm nerves, control appetite and to improve sexual interest.

 HOW TO USE PATCHOULI ESSENTIAL OIL FOR DEPRESSION:

  1. Inhale directly: Inhale patchouli essential oil directly from the bottle or by rubbing a few drops on your wrists. This will help release disappointment and ease tension.  
  2. Use in a diffuser: Diffuse a few drops of patchouli oil to relieve feelings of sadness and reduce depressive thoughts and feelings.

by Up Nature October 22, 2017

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