In the midst of a pandemic life has become very challenging at many levels. Consequently, many people have been suffering with mental health issues to varying degrees. In this article we’ll look at how aromatherapy can help with depression. I’ve heard people talk about lack of motivation, feeling very up and down, suffering from a lack of energy, all symptoms of depression. This is all the more evident during our second big lockdown. The pandemic has been going on for almost a year now and the way in which we’ve had to adapt and change our lives is grinding people down.
In my experience it’s good to have a ‘tool box’ to help combat depression, regardless of severity. Indeed, managing your mental health well can stop severe problems from developing. Tools (coping mechanisms) will vary from one person to another, depending on what makes you feel better. Exercise is a big one as it releases endorphins in the brain, which are known to make you feel good. And there’s a big list of other possibilities, for example: yoga, meditation, communing with nature, gardening, massage, counselling, laughter (doing or watching something that makes you laugh), taking up a hobby/cause, to name but a few. Antidepressant medication can play a part too, it’s a very individual choice. Really anything that lifts your spirits and makes you feel calmer, happier, and more balanced.
Aromatherapy can play a significant part in helping with depression. Our sense of smell is the only sense that has a direct link to the brain via the olfactory nerve, or more specifically to the limbic system. This is the primitive area of our brain that controls emotions and hormone balance. As a friend of mine likes to say, aromas cut through the crap and their effect is immediate.
So let’s apply this to actual use of essential oils. We’re looking for both an uplifting and calming effect when treating depression. There are many ways of using essential oils to achieve this, for example: diffusers such as oil burners and reed diffusers; topical use in creams/lotions and through massage; use in the bath or in shower gels and soaps. Here are a few of my favourite essential oils for combating depression.
My Favourite Essential Oils for Depression
- Basil – a stimulating, clearing, and strengthening essential oil, an excellent choice for combating depression and clearing congestion of the mind and body. It has a clear spicy sweet aroma, reminiscent of anise.
- Bergamot – often the first choice in aromatherapy when dealing with depression. It has a lovely delicate spicy citrus aroma, and is very uplifting and refreshing.
- Frankincense – a deeply calming and strengthening essential oil, one of the best for calming the body and mind, and also for rejuvenating aging skin. It has a penetrating woody spicy slightly camphorous aroma.
- Grapefruit – an uplifting, calming, euphoric essential oil, an excellent air antiseptic and said to ‘take one to paradise’. It has a lovely fresh sharp citrus aroma.
- Jasmine – a calming, euphoric, and very balancing essential oil, an excellent choice for treating depression and said to be one of the best oils for grief. It has an intense rich sweet floral aroma.
- Lavender – one of the most versatile essential oils, effective and safe to use for many conditions. It has a complex sweet floral aroma with a slightly spicy fruity note, and is balancing, calming, and cheering.
- Lemongrass – a refreshing, uplifting, and cooling essential oil, a great choice for depression and headaches. It has an intense sweet lemony aroma, and does seem to linger, making a room smell lovely long after you’ve used it.
- Lime – reviving, uplifting, and refreshing, a good choice for anxiety, depression, and mental fatigue. It has a lovely fresh sweet citrus aroma.
- Sweet Marjoram – a deeply calming and balancing essential oil, an excellent choice for calming the nervous system in cases of deep emotional trauma or hyperactivity. It has a warm herbal peppery aroma with a hint of camphor.
- Neroli (Orange Blossom) – very calming and revitalising, an excellent choice for countering emotional upset and trauma, and also for rejuvenating aging skin. It has a beautiful intense floral aroma, with a hint of citrus.
- Sweet Orange – cleansing, uplifting, and warming, a good choice for depression and nervous tension. It has a lingering rich fruity aroma.
- Patchouli – a calming, grounding, and clearing essential oil, great for depression and clearing the mind. It has a strong sweet earthy-herbaceous aroma with a hint of rose.
- Petitgrain – a calming and cheering essential oil, great for depression and nervous exhaustion. It has a very pleasant woody orange-floral aroma.
- Rose – a calming, balancing, and strengthening essential oil, excellent for depression and increasing confidence. It has a sweet yet refreshing heavenly floral aroma.
- Rosemary – an uplifting, stimulating, and strengthening essential oil, excellent for depression and improving concentration and memory. It has a strong penetrating green/herbal aroma.
- Ylang Ylang – a calming, balancing, and cooling essential oil, excellent for shock, trauma, panic, and well known for restless sleep or legs. It has an intense sweet heavy floral aroma. Used alone it can be quite overpowering, however blended with oils such as Grapefruit and Sweet Marjoram it smells gorgeously tropical.
As mentioned above there are lots of ways of using essential oils, as demonstrated in many of my aromatherapy products. You could try using one of my essential oil blends in a burner/diffuser. Or get and immediate lift from one of my shower gels. Or and immediate and lasting effect from my massage oils or skin care products. Whatever you choose I do hope you enjoy using essential oils, they’re such a fantastic natural way of helping you feel better.