Anxiety and depression affects countless people around the world, some in more serious ways than others. Using essential oils for anxiety and depression has been a part of human culture for thousands of years, and remains a popular treatment to this day.
While stress is a natural part of life, and can often help our bodies prepare for different situations, anxiety can often become pervasive, changing your outlook on life. Stress and anxiety can increase inflammation, put strain on the immune system, and lead to oxidative stress and chronic disease. It can also negatively impact the stability of your personal, emotional, professional and social lives. And depression can cause you to lose interest in beloved activities, have poor sleeping habits, lose weight, and disengage from the outside world.
While many people think of anxiety as being a result of worry in our lives, it can also be caused by environmental factors, genetics, chemical changes in the brain and medical side effects. Similarly, depression is characterized by major changes in hormone and chemical levels in the brain and body, in conjunction with life events, grief, medical conditions and genetics. Using essential oils for anxiety and depression can help to alter that brain chemistry, promote the balance of hormones, and improve overall mood and attitude, thanks to their sedative, soothing, stimulating, energizing and detoxifying properties.
Best essential oils for anxiety and depression
Some of the most popular essential oils for anxiety and depression include rose, vetiver, ylang ylang, lavender, bergamot, basil, lemon, frankincense, chamomile, patchouli, clary sage, jasmine, peppermint, valerian root and geranium oils, among others.
This powerful essential oil is often used in aromatherapy practices for improving meditation and clearing the mind of anxiety and worry. It also helps to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate, which can provide a feeling of calm during an anxiety attack.
How to use - Topically apply a few drops of this oil to the back of your neck, or mix this oil into a room diffuser or aromatherapy machine.
Valerian root oil
One of the common side effects of anxiety is tension in the stomach, cramping and indigestion. Valerian root oil can not only improve your mental state, but also soothe the stomach and stop the cycle of anxiety in its tracks. It is also a sedative, which can help with any symptoms of insomnia you may be experiencing as a result of anxiety.
How to use – external use of this oil is quite popular, particularly for sprinkling on the pillow before you go to sleep, allowing you to inhale the aromatic compounds all night.
To instill a sense of calmness in the body and mind, many people turn to chamomile oil, as it can settle feelings of restlessness that often accompany depression. This oil can elevate your mood, simply by inhaling it, and will also reduce sleeplessness, another common side effect of depression.
How to use – you can inhale chamomile oil straight from the bottle to soothe your nervous system, or you can add a few drops to a room diffuser.
The active components of lemon oil have been directly connected to a boost to cognitive energy. When you are in the throes of an anxiety or depressive episode, this oil can clear away the mental fog, giving your purpose and clarity, and boosting mood by increasing energy levels in the body through elevated circulation.
How to use – you can mix a few drops of lemon oil in a glass of warm water to induce a sense of focused calm, or you can add the lemon oil to your bathwater and re-set your mood.
This is one of the most versatile essential oils for anxiety and depression, as it can reduce inflammation in the body, stimulate the immune system, boost energy, lower blood pressure and reduce feelings of fatigue or despondency. For someone suffering from anxiety-induced depression, basil oil is a comprehensive remedy for all related symptoms.
How to use – adding a few drops of this oil to a pot of steaming water and then breathing in deeply can deliver the powerful aromatic compounds directly to the parts of your brain that need them. Using this oil in a room diffuser is also effective.
This powerful natural oil is not the most common, but it does interact directly with the central nervous system as a tonic, helping to regulate nervous system function, reducing panic and hypersensitivity. This is crucial for people suffering from chronic anxiety.
How to use – this oil is often combined with rose or lavender oil and then applied to the wrists, just a few drops on each. This can let the oil quickly enter your bloodstream and provide a pleasant, uplifting smell all day.
This popular oil has a number of stimulating properties, capable of elevating blood pressure, increasing mood and balancing hormone levels in the body. This can rapidly impact feelings of depression, while also countering anxiety by releasing dopamine and serotonin into the bloodstream.
How to use – this oil is popular in aromatherapy and room diffusers, as a few inhalations can start to boost energy levels. You can also apply a few drops to the back of your neck or wrists.
With its sedative and soothing qualities, lavender oil can help to lower blood pressure and moderate symptoms of anxiety, while also regulating hormones to reduce mood swings and periods of depression. Lavender also has anti-inflammatory properties when inhaled, which can reduce pain and chronic discomfort, which often leads to long-term anxiety.
How to use – putting a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow can induce sound sleep and leave you feeling rested in the morning, with a positive attitude and balanced hormones.
Research has shown that the aromatic compounds in patchouli oil are able to stimulate the release of dopamine and serotonin, which can quickly flood the body and replace feelings of sadness or despondency with hope and happiness. The sedative and analgesic properties can also promote healthy, pain-free sleep, which can further help avoid depressive episodes.
How to use – the pleasant, unmistakeable aroma of patchouli oil makes it a favorite for room diffusers, as it can help to keep your mood elevated and optimistic all day. Applying a few drops to the back of the neck is also a popular remedy.
Studies have shown that ylang ylang oil can reduce blood pressure and slow the release of adrenaline within the body, helping it counter panic attacks and reduce overall stress hormones in the body. It also has sedative properties that can aid sleep disorders and insomnia, which are common side effects of depression.
How to use – topically applying a combination of ylang ylang oil and a carrier oil (coconut or almond) to your skin as a massage oil or chest rub is an excellent way to deliver the active ingredients and see rapid results.
This oil can stimulate blood flow and circulation, and some of its active ingredients are even used in antidepressant medications. It is commonly praised for being able to clear the mind, invigorate the senses and provide relaxation for an overactive nervous system, in the case of anxiety.
How to use – you can add this oil to a room diffuser or topically apply it to the neck, stomach, hands or feet, where it can be readily absorbed.
This is a highly valued oil for its ability to regulate the central nervous system and balance hormone production. When using this oil, you can quickly calm your emotions and increase levels of happiness through the release of serotonin, helping to fight off depression, regardless of the cause.
How to use – inhalation is the most effective way to use jasmine, so adding it to a room diffuser, or putting a few drops in a steaming pot of water and then breathing in deeply, will provide you with almost immediate effects!
Chronic pain and inflammation are often connected to depressive symptoms, so geranium oil’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties are very important. Furthermore, this oil is a sedative, helping to induce sleep and promote feelings of calmness so you can rest uninterrupted through an entire night.
How to use – people often place a few drops in their hands, rub them together, and then breathe deeply before going to sleep. However, room diffusers and aromatherapy practices also work well with geranium oil.
Using essential oils for anxiety and depression can be extremely beneficial, without the side effects of pharmaceutical solutions. However, each of these potent oils comes with its own unique set of side effects, ranging from skin inflammation and fatigue to severe gastrointestinal reactions, dangerously low levels of blood pressure, cognitive confusion, dizziness, appetite fluctuations, mood swings, and many more. Speak with a doctor before adding any of these concentrated oils to your health regimen. Be particularly careful about which oils can be internally consumed, as some can be quite toxic.