Aromatherapy for Depression and Uplifting Your Mood

By Val Silver

When the blues have you down in the dumps, aromatherapy for depression natural remedies may be just what you need to nurture your heart and lift your spirits.

Essential oils for depression, anxiety and mental stress are effective when inhaled or absorbed through your skin. Their molecules make their way to the limbic area of your brain when sniffed via the olfactory nerve. These molecules signal the emotional parts of your brain to elicit a hormonal, physical, or emotional response. When absorbed through your skin, the molecules make their way into your blood stream.

How to Use Aromatherapy for Depression

There are several ways to benefit from essential oils for depression. They can be massaged into the skin with a carrier oil, diffused or spritzed into the air, added to a warm bath, or inhaled directly. Do not take essential oils internally. 

Treating yourself to an aromatic massage provides nurturing touch, relaxes your muscles and improves circulation. Together these two therapies support your nervous system and can help alleviate mild lows.

One of my favorite ways to regain emotional balance quickly when I feel down or stressed is to rub a few drops of a blend into my hands and inhale deeply a few times. Finish this off with a hand and shoulder massage and life just feels a little better.

Note: If you are suffering from severe depression, essential oils can be helpful as a complementary natural therapy along with conventional medical treatment, including prescription drugs, but not as a stand alone therapy. Clinical depression is a complex condition and may require holistic treatment, which includes medical care. Consult your doctor before using herbal remedies as they may interact with your medication.

Essential Oil Remedies for the Blues

aromatherapy for depression, lavender bath salts

Essential oils are often derived from flowers and fruit. One of the most beloved of these flowers is lavender. It has a heavenly aroma known for its calming, emotionally balancing effects. In studies, lavender has been shown to enter the bloodstream within five minutes. Its effects last for 90 minutes. Lavender is often added to essential oil blends.

Lemon and rosemary are popular oils that 'wake you up', clear your head, and lift your spirits.

Highly prized among essential oils for depression, grief, and sadness is pure Bulgarian rose oil. It is also one of the most expensive oils, priced at hundreds of dollars an ounce. Thankfully, you can purchase very small amounts of rose oil for inhaling or using a drop at a time. It is often available already diluted in a carrier oil.

Rose oil is sometimes found in aromatherapy for depression blends or as a hydrosol. Hydrosols, or flower waters, have therapeutic value, but are milder than essential oils. A spritz of rose hydrosol on your body after a shower or pillow before sleep will comfort you as you breathe in its heart warming essence.

Citrus oils are recognized for elevating low moods, uplifting energy, and invigorating the senses. Researchers found that doses of antidepressants could be reduced in 12 depressed subjects and that treatment with citrus fragrance normalized neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune function more effectively than antidepressants. Recommended citrus oils include bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, neroli, and orange. 

Frankincense, grapefruit, jasmine, neroli, patchouli, peppermint, and pettigrain are also helpful essential oils for depression. 

In addition to essential oils, herbal depression remedies are also helpful for providing a lift when you are feeling blue. 

Aromatherapy for Depression Recipes

In her book Aromatherapy A Lifetime Guide to Healing with Essential Oils, Valerie Gennari Cooksley shares her favorite aromatherapy for depression recipes. This blend is very popular for mild depression because it works well for many people and has a heavenly scent.

Nature's Answer

In an amber bottle, mix together the following essential oils:

  • 4 parts clary sage 
  • 4 parts ylang ylang
  • 3 parts geranium
  • 2 parts basil
  • 1 part sandalwood 

Label the bottle. Use 4-6 drops in an aroma lamp, diffuser, or simmering pot. Use two or three times daily.

If you enjoy baths, six to eight drops of this blend in a warm bath two or three times a week helps lift your spirits. You can make bath salts with this recipe or mix into a carrier oil.

This aromatherapy for depression blend is effective because of the following qualities attributed to these oils:

  • Clary sage is euphoric and anti-depressant. It is calming and eases stress and fatigue.
  • Ylang ylang calms anger, nervous tension, and is anti-depressant.
  • Geranium regulates hormones and balances emotions. It helps relieve nervous tension, anxiety and depression.
  • Basil clears the mind, relieves mental fatigue and is anti-depressant.
  • Sandalwood is the base note essence. It eases nervous tension and grief, and helps concentration.

Sweet Summer Perfume

This relaxing and warming floral recipe is from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is especially useful during times of stress, anxiety, irritability, or depression.

  • 10 drops Lavender EO (balances emotions, calming)
  • 5 drops Chamomile EO (soothes anxiety, anger, irritability)
  • 4 drops Cardamom EO (eases fatigue, clears the conscious mind)
  • 1 drop Cedarwood EO (for anger, fear, nervous tension, focus)
  • 1 drop Geranium (Rose) EO -relieves nervous tension, depression
  • 1 tsp Jojoba Oil - carrier oil

Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle, and roll between palms to mix evenly. Add the Jojoba oil and roll again. Add additional essential oils a drop at a time if you desire a stronger perfume.

If you omit or swap oils from these recipes or change the ratios they will still be helpful, but will have a different aroma. 

´╗┐Sometimes, it can be difficult to pull yourself out of the blues. Depression has multiple causes, and dealing with those causes is important for healing rather than just easing symptoms. Using aromatherapy as part of a holistic approach to depression relief may be just what you need to find yourself smiling a little easier.

Related Pages

essential oils for anxiety and stress reliefAromatherapy for Anxiety and Stress Relief
Guide to Mental and Emotional Healing

Aromatherapy for Depression and Uplifting Your Mood updated 12/2020

Source: Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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