Depression is a dark shadow the clings to you like a toxic relationship. It fills you with doubt, hopelessness, and an overwhelming anxiety that instills a sense of perpetual gloominess that’s hard to lift.
Depression can be light as a feather in the back of your mind or completely debilitating in a way that interferes with sleep, eating, personal hygiene, and even the ability to get out of bed. No matter how it manifests itself, depression is an ever present burden that many face everyday.
Signs of Depression
According to The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Bttaglia, depression is considered an illness that seriously affects:
ability to cope with life
energy for activity
A patient with depression must be diagnosed with at least 5 of the below symptoms for two weeks (criterion 1 and 2 are essential for diagnoses):
loss of interest or pleasure
significant weight loss/gain
insomnia or hypersomnia (aka sleeping A LOT)
psychomotor agitation and retardation
fatigue or loss of energy
feeling of excessive guilt of worthlessness
impaired thinking, concentration, or indecisiveness
Other symptoms may include:
feelings of not being able to cope with life
loss of sense of humor
tension and anger
irritability or fearfulness
somatic symptoms such as headache, constipation, indigestion, dry mouth, and unusual pains in the chest or abdomen
If you have any of these symptoms, it is advised to seek out an official diagnosis with your physician. Depression can be a very serious mental illness that may need the guidance of a phycologist, certain medications, and medical supervision so don’t take it too lightly!
Essential Oils for Depression
Overcoming depression can be a long arduous road, but it doesn’t have to be! Using essential oils for depression is one of the easiest and gentlest ways to heal mentally and emotionally. They have a powerful effect on our mood and overall outlook.
Essential oils do this because they contain potent volatile oils that are able to cross the blood/brain barrier and directly effect the limbic system- the part of our brain that controls emotions like fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. Smelling certain essential oils, especially those with a high cineol content (like rosemary for example), can have an immediate positive impact on mood.
Diffusing or directly inhaling essential oils has been proven to not only reduce depression, but also reduce stress and positively affect the mind.
The Best Essential Oils for Depression and How to Use Them
Aromatherapy has such a profound energizing effect on the nervous system. Using essential oils for depression can help balance, relax, and restore the mind and body for easier recovery. Keep in mind though, that Eos should be a PART of your healing journey. You will still need to focus on mental healing too and that can include things like herbal remedies, body movement, diet, and restful sleep.
General Essential Oils for Depression
Everyone should be using a few of the essential oils listed below as they are fantastic all around uplifting and cheerful oils. If you can get nothing else, choose some of these!
basil– for anxiety, fatigue, and depression. A very uplifting oil.
bergamot (one of my favorite oils!)- helps with feelings of pain, anxiety, sadness, and depression.
frankincense– slows breathing and helps reduce fear, nervous tension, anxiety, and stress.
geranium– naturally sedative, lifts the spirits, releases negativity. Eases depression and stress.
jasmine– uplifting and eases spasms.
lavender– eases nervousness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fear.
lemongrass (another favorite)- purifying and uplifting, combats negativity, stress, and depression.
lemon verbena– a bright essential oil that uplifts even the darkest moods.
mandarin– emotionally uplifting. A very cheerful oil.
neroli– a calming and happy oil.
orange– refreshing, energizing, and uplifting aroma that eases panic, fear, anger, irritation, and nervousness.
roman chamomile– a wonderful oil for easing stress, anxiety, and depression.
sandalwood– a slightly sedative oil that is great for insomnia when you can;t sleep due to inner stress.
sweet marjoram– eases fear, loneliness, grief, rejection, and anxiousness. tangerine
tangerine– a cheerful oil that instill positivity.
yang ylang– restores equilibrium, confidence, and energy.
These EOs are wonderful to use diffused in your home or office to brighten emotions and to free the mind of negativity.
Add them to a spritzer bottle with water or witch hazel and spray as needed to uplift your spirits. Breath deeply. For a 1oz size bottle, add 30-40 drops of your favorite blend of oils from the list above. My favorite includes 10 drops each of bergamot, lemon, and geranium but you can mix and match!
Diffuse a few drops each of your favorite oils for 30 min. every 4-6 hours.
When you feel anxious, nervous, and unsettled about life situations.
Swipe on your palms, rub them together, and cup your nose and mouth. Inhale deeply for 3-4 breaths. Think positively and let go of anxiety. Repeat as needed up to 3 times daily.
Apathy and Helplessness
Sometimes you feel like you could care less about yourself, others, and just the world around you. Other times, you feel like you want to care but don’t know how because you feel like you are not worthy or capable of helping.
Add this blend to a 1 oz roll-on bottle and apply over the heart, the back of the neck, and on the wrists. Breath deeply and clear all negative thoughts.
For times when you feel utterly lost and alone and the feeling of despair rests heavy on you.
Apply over the heart, wrists, and soles of the feet. Inhale deeply and very slowly 3-4 times and imagine despair leaving you with each exhale. Each inhale brings light and positivity into your being. Focus on happiness and joy. Repeat as needed.
When fear shrouds every thought and action. You feel unworthy, afraid, helpless, and like you cannot protect others or yourself.
Apply to wrists, the back of the neck, between the breasts, and the soles of the feet. Imagine letting go of fear and negativity because it doesn’t serve you.
When feelings of blame on oneself and overwhelming guilt take over your day to day activities.
Apply to the wrists, chest, and temples. Breathe deeply for 3-4 breaths.
When you feel betrayed, abandoned, or utterly alone.
Apply over the heart, the soles of the feet, and on each side of the throat to instill a sense of peace, acceptance, and strength. This blend should only be used in the evening before bedtime to help ease you to sleep with an open heart.
The Types of Depression
As if depression couldn’t get anymore complicated, did you know that there are actually many different types of depression? Yep, there’s quite a few! Knowing which ones you suffer from can greatly help improve your ability to overcome depression by treating the underlying causes.
Using the EOs listed for each type of depression you have in conjunction with mood enhancing essential oils will greatly help ease symptoms and speed up healing and recovery.
Gastrointestinal Inflammation Based Depression
GI Based depression is where the inflammation in our gut directly effects our brain and by extension, our emotions. There is a lot of evidence that supports the gut/brain connection and I highly encourage you to read into it if you have this type of depression as it will really help you on your journey to health.
GI Based Depression symptoms include:
intestinal diseases and conditions like celiac disease, crown’s disease, IBS, and IBD
intestinal distress such as leaky gut, chronic diarrhea and constipation, and loud intestinal gurgling
Essential Oils for GI Based Depression
The best essential oils for digestive distress are going to be ones that have a soothing effect such as:
These EOs can be diffused for 30 min. every 4-6 hours as needed, cupped in your hands for inhalation (just add 1-3 drops to your palms with an equal amount of carrier oil) and inhaled deeply for 3-4 breaths, or they can be applied with a carrier oil to the abdomen twice daily to ease symptoms.
Of course, digestive issues require a careful look at diet and lifestyle as well so it is highly recommended to look into possible trigger foods and ways to reduce stress.
Hepatic (Meloncholic) Depression
Hepatic depression is a really common form of depression where you feel like it’s too hard to carry out day to day tasks and responsibilities, hence its other name, melancholic depression. those who have this type of depression often feel chronically worn out and can be malnourished because they have no desire to eat.
Symptoms include anxiety, despondency, insomnia, loss of appetite, and moodiness.
Essential Oils for Hepatic Depression
Diffuse for 30 min. every 3-4 hours, create a 1oz roll-on with 30 drops total of EO from the list above and apply to wrists, chest, and neck, or create a room spray with 30 drops EO in 1oz of water or witch hazel. Spritz often!
Hormonal depression stems from fluctuating hormones during puberty, menses, menopause, pregnancy, postpartum, or just when your hormones are unbalanced due to lifestyle changes, medications, and other factors. The best way to speed up recovery is to of course bring your hormones back into balance!
Essential oils should not be the only method you use for balancing hormones because that may not be possible depending on your unique situation. For example, if you are female and the reason your hormones are out of balance is because of diet (like not consuming enough healthy fats), essential oils are not going to be able to help with that!
However, essential oils can definitely be beneficial. Here’s some of the best essential oils for balancing hormones based on common issues:
Amenorrhea (loss of period)
Apply on the wrists and inner ankles 12 days after the first day or your period until day one of your next period. Repeat monthly.
Dysmenorrhea (very painful periods)
Apply over the abdomen and lower back area during menses.
Infertility in Men and Women
I have written extensively on these topics here and here.
Menorrhagia (very heavy periods)
These are wonderful added to your evening bath but can also be made into a 1oz roll-on and applied to the abdomen and inner ankles twice daily.
Massage all over the entire body daily. For better synergy, make a larger batch.
Massage the entire body after bathing daily.
You can also read further into balancing hormones as a whole here and here.
HPA Axis Dysfunction Induced Depression
This type of depression embodies irrationality, hasty uncalculated decisions, and intense emotions that are normally triggered by low blood sugar, endocrine dysfunction (i.e. thyroid issues and other gland issues etc.), chronic stress, and fatigue.
People who have this type of depression need oils that will help support adrenals, balance blood sugar, and help keep them as stress free as possible.
Blood Sugar Balance
Apply to the abdomen before and after meals. To make an oral spray simply add the EOs to a 1oz spray bottle with water. Shake vigorously and spray once into the mouth before and after meals.
Apply between the breasts right above the thymus. You can also read about how to support your thyroid gland using essential oils here.
Apply over the heart, collarbone, and wrists for deep stress relief. Read more about stress support using essential oils here.
Chronic Fatigue- Lack of Energy
Apply to wrists and inhale deeply for a boost of energy!
Chronic Fatigue- Lack of Sleep
Apply on wrists, neck, collarbone, and the soles of the feet before bed.
This type of depression affects many woman after the birth of a child and can be quite severe. You may have feelings of irrationality, hopelessness, overwhelm, and just a sense of not knowing what to do or how to feel or feeling less than capable.
Many people experience incessant crying, lack of appetite, powerful mood swings, insomnia, and physical and mental exhaustion.
Essential Oils for Postpartum Depression
Add 30 drops total of EO from the list above to 1oz of carrier oil and massage into the abdomen while breathing deeply.
This type of depression results from feeling stuck in a tragic moment that may have happened years ago and are unable to move forward. This may be the death of a loved one, a toxic relationship, or when something terrible has happened that really affects you. Often, these individuals experience flashbacks, have chronic and unrelenting grief, are obsessed over what happened, or isolate themselves.
Essential Oils for Stagnant Depression
Diffuse 2-3 times a day and breathe deeply by mixing geranium, frankincense, and lavender (5 drops each). For a roll on, add 4 drops of each oil to a roll-on bottle and apply the the bottoms of the feet and the back of then neck before bedtime. Omit the valerian in this blend for daytime use.
Old Age Depression
This type of depression manifests itself as a longing to stay young or feeling depressed because youth is slipping away.
It can also be linked to:
a fear of death
a fear of aging
lack of mobility
losing friends and family
lack of a healthy wholesome diet
Essential Oils for Old Age Depression
Some of the best essential oils for this type of depression are ones that uplift the mood like citrusy essential oils, oils with high amounts of cineol like rosemary, and floral scents like neroli.
The rosemary essential oil is especially useful for increasing healthy circulation in the brain and its corresponding limbic system. Smell straight from the body for 3-4 deep breathes.
he use of anti-aging essential oils topically may also have a positive effect. Adding frankincense, rose, and elemi essential oils to daily skincare can have a dramatic effect on the quality of our skin. To do this, simply add one drop to your face cream every morning and evening.
Thyroid Induced Depression
Thyroid induces depression is caused by hormonal imbalances closely linked to thyroid health. Those with this type of depression are often inflicted with iodine deficiency, so it may be worth looking into your levels.
Symptoms of Thyroid Induced Depression Include:
digestive issues such as constipation
dry brittle hair and nails
always feeling cold, especially the hands and feet
frequent mood swings
The Best Essential Oils for Hyothyroidism (Underactive thyroid)
cedar wood– stimulates the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to release TSH and TRH
myrtle- stimulates and protects good thyroid health, especially when combined with spearmint.
rose geranium– contain esters that protect the thyroid. It also increases the bioavailability of iodine making it easier to absorb.
Best Essentail Oils for Hyperthyroidism (Overactive thyroid)
Whether you have hyper or hypothyroidism, the application method if the same.
For hypothyroidism, I recommend mixing 1 drop each of rose geranium, myrtle, and cedar wood with a little bit of carrier oil and apply it directly over the thyroid.
For hypothyroidism, I recommend mixing 1 drop each of blue tansy, german chamomile, and myrrh with some carrier oil and apply it over the thyroid.
Do this 2-3 times daily to help support and nourish the thyroid and overall endocrine system.
You can read more about how to support the thyroid in my previous article on the topic.
What have been your favorite essential oils for depression support? Please share below!
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