According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting more than 40 million adults each year. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can be more than just irritating – they can be downright debilitating. Common treatments for mental illness include medication and psychotherapy, though there are some alternatives available.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression but you don’t like the idea of going on medication, you’ll be glad to know that there may be another option – essential oils. When used in aromatherapy applications, essential oils can help to reduce anxiety, ease depression, and boost your mood. Best of all, they’re completely natural!
Below you’ll find an overview of how essential oils can be used for aromatherapy as well as a list of the best oils for anxiety and depression.
You’ll also receive some wonderful recipes!
How to Use Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
Not only are there many different essential oils to choose from, but they can be used in a variety of different ways. For aromatherapy, you can inhale the essential oils using a number of different methods. You can also apply essential oils topically in the form of a lotion or body butter – soaking in a bath with essential oil bath salts is a great option as well.
When it comes to inhaling essential oils, the three easiest options are diffusion, steam inhalation, and spray. A diffuser is a small device that warms the essential oil so they evaporate and pervade the room through the air. Steam inhalation typically involves adding a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water then leaning over the bowl to inhale the steam. An essential oil spray can be made using a water-based solution and sprayed into the air.
If you prefer a topical application for essential oils, try making your own aromatherapy lotion or body butter. It’s also very easy to make essential oil bath salts – just check out these recipes. You can also apply essential oils directly to the skin after diluting them in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, or argan oil.
Which Essential Oils Should You Use?
Each essential oil has its own set of therapeutic properties. If you want to use aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and depression, however, there are a number of essential oils you should focus on. Here is a quick list of some of the best oils for these ailments as well as an overview of their properties:
- Bergamot – A citrus scent, bergamot essential oil can boost blood flow and circulation, helping to clear the mind and invigorate the senses. It may also help to soothe an overactive nervous system if you suffer from anxiety.
- Chamomile – Known for its calming properties, chamomile is helpful for relieving symptoms of restlessness that may accompany depression. It can also elevate mood and improve insomnia.
- Frankincense – This essential oil is commonly used in meditation because it helps to clear away anxiety and worry – it may also lower blood pressure and heart rate to help you feel calmer.
- Geranium – This oil has natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which, in addition to improving mood, may help to combat some of the physical symptoms of depression like chronic pain and inflammation. It may also help you sleep.
- Jasmine – This floral fragrance helps to boost serotonin production in the brain to help calm your anxiety and boost your mood. It may also support hormone balance and help regulate your central nervous system.
- Lavender–This essential oil has soothing and sedative properties to help with anxiety. It can also reduce mood swings, lift depression, and help regulate the hormones.
- Lemon – This citrus scent can boost your cognitive energy and help improve your mood while also clearing mental fog and increasing energy levels.
- Patchouli – This essential oil contains compounds that can stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine to boost your mood. It also has sedative and analgesic properties that can help you sleep.
- Rose–This lovely floral scent can boost your mood and help balance hormone levels in addition to boosting the production of dopamine and serotonin.
- Valerian Root – In addition to improving your mental state, valerian root can help soothe some of the digestive side effects of depression such as stomach cramps and indigestion.
- Vetiver – Though this essential oil may not be the most common, it has powerful benefits for reducing panic and hypersensitivity – it can also soothe the central nervous system.
- Ylang-Ylang–If you have trouble sleeping as a result of your depression, ylang-ylang might be able to help. It has natural sedative properties and may also reduce blood pressure and slow the release of adrenaline to help calm panic attacks.
If you’re going to make your own aromatherapy essential oil blends, you can choose which oils to use and in what combinations, according to your preference. If you aren’t sure how to get started, just try one of the recipes below!
Steam Inhalation to Calm Anxiety
When you’re feeling an anxiety attack coming on, don’t reach for a bottle of pills – give this steam inhalation a try. It can be prepared as quickly as you can boil water, so it’s a great quick-fix.
- Water, as needed
- 2 drops vetiver essential oil
- 1 drop lavender essential oil
- 1 drop ylang-ylang essential oil
- Fill an electric kettle or a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
- Pour the water into a large bowl then add the essential oils.
- Place the bowl at the edge of a table and sit down in front of it.
- Lean over the bowl and cover your head with a towel to contain the steam.
- Breathe in the warm steam, taking slow and deep breaths until you feel calm.
Aromatherapy Diffuser Blend for Depression
If you suffer from depression or mood swings, you may want to keep a diffuser handy so you can use this depression-soothing aromatherapy blend as needed.
- Essential oil diffuser
- Water, as needed
- 3 drops geranium essential oil
- 2 drops jasmine essential oil
- 2 drops rose essential oil
- 2 drops lemon essential oil
- Place your diffuser on a stable surface where you’ll be able to sit close to it – your bedside table is a great option.
- Fill the diffuser with water as recommended in the directions – do not overfill.
- Add the essential oils to the water and turn the diffuser on.
Uplifting Aromatherapy Spray
Essential oils are safe to use on a daily basis, but they can be expensive if you do. To get the most out of your essential oils while still being able to use them daily to lift your mood and relieve anxiety, give this aromatherapy spray a try.
- ½ cup distilled water
- 1 tablespoon vodka
- 20 drops bergamot essential oil
- 10 drops ylang-ylang essential oil
- 4 drops lemon essential oil
- Stir together the water, vodka, and essential oils in a bowl.
- Pour the mixture into a small plastic spray bottle.
- Let the spray rest for 24 hours then spray as desired.
Homemade Lotion for Anxiety and Depression
If you’ve ever been to a beauty boutique, you probably know how much high-quality lotions sell for. To save money, try making your own – you can even add a custom blend of essential oils to relieve anxiety and depression.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon shea butter
- 1 tablespoon beeswax granules
- 10 drops frankincense essential oils
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops chamomile essential oil
- Warm the olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax in a double boiler over low heat.
- Heat the mixture until the ingredients are melted then stir well.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the essential oils.
- Cool the mixture then blend with a hand mixer, if desired, to achieve a creamy consistency.
- Transfer to a glass jar and cover tightly with the lid. Use as desired.
If you want to give some of these recipes a try, make sure you purchase pure, high-quality oils from your local health food store or buy them online. Follow the instructions carefully to mix and apply the oils for the best benefit.