Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression
Everyone experiences feelings of sadness and stress that can be overwhelming from time to time. Luckily there are plenty of natural mood boosters that act as a therapeutic way to ease some of your tension and help you feel more relaxed. Some studies show that the use of certain essential oils can be helpful in promoting a healthier mood for people with mild symptoms.
Essential oils cannot work to cure depression or eliminate other mental health issues, but they can act as a nice mood lifter and people can benefit from them as a complement to other types of therapy. Research indicates that essential oils may help relieve some of the physical symptoms associated with depression by improving sleep, relaxation and enhancing the mental state. Used in combination with massage therapy, essential oils can also help reduce symptoms of pain.
There are several studies involving essential oils but much of the evidence tied to their effectiveness is based on personal accounts. One study proved that patients who received an aromatherapy massage with essential oils reported less pain and depression than those who received massage alone.
Another study provided powerful evidence that essential oils can help reduce feelings of worry and anxiety. The study selected elementary school teachers under a lot of stress and used a 10 minute long inhalation of the essential oil bergamot. The teachers showed reduced blood pressure and heart rate as well as more balanced nervous activity.
Types of Essential Oils
Bergamot is well-known for its use in calming feelings of depression and anxiety. It is a very popular oil because it is very stimulating and can create a feeling of joy and freshness by improving blood circulation. Bergamot can be combined with other types of oils to have a more powerful effect on improving your mood.
One of the most well-known essential oils used for relaxation is lavender, which is made from a purple flower with many beneficial properties. Lavender can be used in many forms including tea and essential oils to help promote healthy sleep and a more balanced mood. A small study showed that patients with depression showed improvement after receiving 60 drops of lavender tincture per day.
Roman chamomile is another essential oil that helps to battle depression and anxiety. Most people are familiar with chamomile tea which you can drink to help you sleep and relax. Chamomile is one of the best medicinal herbs to fight stress because of its soothing qualities.
Another essential oil that is often used to fight depression is ylang ylang which is known to have immediate positive effects on a person’s mood. Research shows that this herb can help release negative emotions such as anger, low self-esteem and jealousy. It can also help reduce heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate to promote a feeling of calm.
How Oils Change Your Mood
The main reason that essential oils can affect your mood has to do with the way our sense of smell is linked to our brain. Smells can serve as emotional triggers as they are carried directly to your brain and interact with the limbic system. This system evaluates sensory stimuli including scent and registers either pleasure, pain, danger or safety.
The limbic system is sometimes referred to as the “emotional brain” because it is directly to connected to the parts of the brain that control your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormonal balance. When people experience stress they often have an increased heart rate and rapid breathing which creates tension in the mind and body.
When you inhale essential oils they interact positively with the limbic system and help create physiological changes that affect your mood. By improving your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing the smell of the oil can allow you to feel more relaxed and less anxious. Inhaling a blend of oils directly from the bottle or through a diffuser for several minutes can have an immediate effect on your mood.
Using Essential Oils
In addition to using a diffuser you can also add essential oils to your bath for relaxation or apply them directly to the skin. Applying essential oils topically to the skin can help reduce pain and allow you to absorb the properties of the herb. Massage and heat can help enhance the absorption of the oil.
If you have mild symptoms of depression or anxiety, then incorporating essential oils into your daily life can help improve your mood. The oils should be used as a complement to regular treatment through a therapist if you have more severe symptoms or have been diagnosed with a mental illness. You can incorporate essential oils into other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation to increase the effects and get the best results.