Essential Oils For Depression, Anxiety, And Other Mental Health Disorders

More and more people are turning to essential oils as an alternative treatment for depression. These natural remedies can either replace or complement medication, depending on what’s best suited for your needs. This holistic treatment works by calming the nervous system. The various types of essential oils each provide a purpose or help the mind and body heal.

The compounds or chemical makeup in these aromatherapy liquids interact with your brain’s receptors, where each scent reacts differently in your brain, producing different effects. It has been proven, that using essential oils for depression as part of your daily routine, can help to minimize the severity and frequency of depressive episodes. It can also provide stress and anxiety relief for those suffering, among other things. Little Creek Recovery in Pennsylvania, offers treatment for depression and co-occurring substance abuse. 

What Is Depression? 

According to mental health disorder statistics, 1 in 4 adults in the United States suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in today’s society, affecting more than 16 million adults (6.7%) in America each year.

Depression is a mood disorder that makes you feel constant sadness or lack of interest in life. It’s normal to experience these emotions at times, but when these depressive episodes last for many days or even months and disrupt someone’s ability to function and live their lives, this can be a major indicator of mental illness. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Depression 

According to the DSM-5, manual doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, you have depression when you have five or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks:

  • Feeling extremely sad, anxious, or empty. 
  • Your mood is depressed for most of the day. 
  • You feel tired or have a lack of energy most days. 
  • You have feelings of worthiness, hopelessness, loneliness, guilt, etc, almost every day.  
  • You have a hard time focusing, remembering details, and making effective decisions.
  • Have trouble sleeping (Insomnia). 
  • You have lost interest or pleasure in many activities you once enjoyed. 
  • You think often about death or suicide. 
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain. 

There are many symptoms of depression, but not everyone will experience the same ones. The severity and frequency can vary based on who experiences them as well as how long they last. 

How Does Depression Affect The Brain?

Studies have shown that during episodes of depression there is not enough of the stress hormone cortisol and neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. As a result, having these low levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter dopamine causes specific symptoms associated with depression. This misfiring in the brain’s chemical makeup can be caused by a lot of different things. 

In many cases, depression is genetic and passed down through generations. In other cases, the mental condition is a result of extended exposure to stress and negative environments. Whether genetic or developed later in life, there are many risk factors and similar symptoms associated with various mental disorders. 

That’s why depression must be accurately diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional. If left untreated, further health consequences will most likely occur. The lack of receiving treatment unfortunately is all too common with mental conditions such as depression. 

Some people are turning to essential oils as an alternative treatment for depression. The compounds in these liquids interact with your brain’s receptors, giving you different effects depending on what type of mood-lifting or relaxation oil it is that particular person uses. 

How Essential Oils Work For Depression And Improve Mental Health?

Natural healers have been aware of the healing components in plants for centuries. Before western medicine’s rise, natural remedies were mostly made from plant-based medicines and extracts like essential oils that come from flower stems, or roots with various benefits depending on which part you use. 

The sense of smell is one that has been linked to our memories. That’s why, when we smell something beautiful or listen to our favorite song it boosts moods instantaneously. Essential oils are usually used topically in the form of aromatherapy and inhaling these healing extracts can be beneficial for mental health as well because each sense has an impact on how we feel internally, especially smell which also carries deep emotional responses from associations. 

Common Essential Oils For Depression And Other Mental Health Conditions

When treating depression with essential oils, it is important to keep in mind the specific chemical compounds that play a part in causing this mental condition. The best oils for improving health and fighting off mood swings include peppermint oil and lavender, which can help ease anxiety attacks. However, many different essential oils can be used for improving overall health. 

When looking for the best essential oils for depression, research studies have shown these to have the most impact on decreasing depressive episodes among other symptoms associated with this condition.

Wild Ginger

Wild ginger oil is a natural remedy that affects the serotonergic system. The “feel-good” neurotransmitters are increased by using oils to improve this part of your body’s function, just as medication does for those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorder. 

Lavender Oil

Lavender is a tried-and-true mood booster, with data to back up its calming effects. It’s used as an essential oil to help regulate mood, reduce stress levels by helping to calm a person’s nervous system. Although, it’s not only used in aromatherapy, but also for skincare products like lotion or soap because it can reduce anxiety levels when inhaled, as well as, on your body through massage therapy. 


Chamomile is an excellent choice for an essential oil. There’s been research linking high levels of anxiety, stress, chronic pain, and lack of sleep for individuals suffering from depression. Chamomile is a natural antihistamine that can lower levels of stress, anxiety, and inflammation in the body. 


Cedarwood is an ancient plant with many healing properties. It can be used in small doses or as part of your daily routine to help relieve symptoms of everyday bouts of stress, anxiety, and mild depression, as well as, provide mental clarity. 


Frankincense is an ancient oil that has been used for centuries to treat depression. When inhaled, this herb can boost mood and decrease cortisol levels in the body via neural pathways connected with feelings of joy or reward from activity. 

Other Essential Oils For Depression

Other types of essential oils that have been shown to improve depression and reduce anxiety include:

  • Rose Oil
  • Grapefruit Oil
  • Jasmine
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Clary Sage
  • Tangerine Oil
  • Wild Orange
  • Bergamot

When you’re looking for essential oil, it is important to make sure that the product (especially if applied directly onto your skin) has high-quality ingredients. Some manufacturers may mix low-quality oils to reduce cost and price themselves lower than they should be; however, there are ways of ensuring this doesn’t happen. To ensure that you are getting a high-quality essential oil, look for bottles less than 4 ounces and with very potent flavors.

How To Use Aromatherapy For Depression

Essential oils through aromatherapy are one of the most powerful ways to change your mood and have many different uses. This holistic method can be done through inhaling the oil, rubbing the oil directly onto the skin, or with the use of a diffuser. Some ways people effectively use essential oils include:

  • Adding a few drops to an oil diffuser and allowing the room to fill with the desired scent 
  • Inhaling the oil directly from the bottle 
  • Putting a few drops onto a cotton ball or the base of the wrist and inhaling it as desired
  • Adding drops into a bottle of massage oil/lotion and rubbing onto the skin
  • Mixing some essential oil into your favorite bath products for aromatherapy bath

Other Holistic Treatments For Depression 

If you are looking for alternative methods of treatment for depression, essential oils are only one of the many ways to supplement conventional methods for those suffering from depression. The understanding behind holistic treatments is that each part of you affects every other (mind, body, spirit). The mind-body connection is so powerful, so, if anything feels out of balance, there will be negative side effects both mentally and physically. 

If you are looking to try alternative methods of healing for your addiction or co-occurring conditions, a few to consider include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Energy Healing (Reiki, Meditation, etc.)
  • Dance/expression therapy
  • Yoga

While holistic treatments can be used to help treat depression, they can also be used as a part of your everyday life after treatment for numerous health benefits. 

Traditional Treatment Options For Depression at Little Creek Recovery

Depression can be treated by using essential oils in addition to traditional methods. These plant-based remedies are not only safe but also effective at changing the chemical makeup of your brain and helping you overcome depression naturally without any unwanted side effects that medication might have on one’s system. This includes increased blood pressure or decreased sex drive among others. 

You may want to try aromatherapy treatments for an even more holistic approach especially if it has been found ineffective with other forms of treatment such as therapy sessions which many people find invaluable tools when dealing with mental illness.  

Whatever the reason for seeking a more holistic approach to depression, essential oils can support a depression treatment plan. They can even boost just the occasional negative emotional state. 

Little Creek Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression and addiction. This usually consists of:

Medical Detox

During this first step of treatment, during detox, medical professionals remove harmful substances from the patient’s body, such as drugs and alcohol. This usually involves medication that mimics your substance(s) and helps to break down physical dependence on it in a slow but safe manner without causing any withdrawals or negative side effects associated with a sudden stop in use. 

Residential Treatment

Once detox is complete, we move our patients to inpatient treatment for a designated amount of time. Inpatient treatment is best for people with severe addiction and mental health issues. While in our inpatient rehab program, you’ll receive round-the-clock care from our dedicated staff. You’ll also have access to different therapy programs. 

Individual Therapy

Individual psychotherapy involves one-on-one sessions with you and a licensed mental health counselor. You’ll discover how your addiction led to your depression and vice versa. Skills will be taught to help teach people how to effectively cope with their conditions, as well as, turn unhealthy thoughts and behaviors into more positive ones. 

Group Therapy

In group therapy, you’ll share your experiences with other people going through similar experiences with depression, and other conditions such as addiction. A therapist will guide you in different exercises and discussion topics to help learn how to effectively cope with your conditions. This has created a sense of community and support, making people feel that they’re not alone. 

Get Quality Treatment At Little Creek Recovery

We understand that each client has their own individual story and needs. Depression can be a difficult mental health condition and often co-occurs with substance abuse disorder. Whether you are predisposed to it or it’s a result of life circumstances, supplementing your depression treatment plan with essential oils and aromatherapy can be a great option. 

Little Creek Recovery is here to help those in need of treatment for depression. Upon entry to our facilities, our staff will work with you, your family members, or your loved ones on providing treatment that best fits your unique needs.

We take pride in our ability to offer resources to those in need. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about our treatment options for depression and other co-occurring disorders, contact us today. 


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