Aromatherapy for Depression
Aromatherapy is a complementary health modality. The safe use of essential oils within the practice of holistic aromatherapy can help enhance your overall emotional outlook and complement other traditional and alternative modalities that are intended to combat depression. Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils should not be used as a substitute for proper medical care. Essential oils cannot cure depression, but essential oils do offer potential to help ease symptoms.
Depression, for some persons, is only temporary and for others, can be a constant struggle. Please bear in mind when you read this article that I am not a medical or psychiatric practitioner. This article isn't intended to offer diagnosis or medical suggestions.
If you believe that you are suffering from depression, you should consult with a qualified medical practitioner or psychiatric professional who can properly assist you. If you are interested in a natural plan of treatment for depression, consider meeting with a reputable naturopathic doctor in your area. If you choose to follow any of the ideas presented within this article, be sure you first discuss them with your doctor or counselor.
Underlying Causes of Depression
Chemical/hormonal imbalances and situational triggers are two causes for depression. Situational triggers that can impact depression include the following:
- Death of a Loved One
- Health Issues
- Physical or Verbal Abuse
- Job Loss or Unemployment
- Stressful Job or Career
- Financial Hardship
- Major Lifestyle Change
- Pressure from Loved Ones
Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Tips That May Help Ease Symptoms of Depression
Use a diffuser to diffuse uplifting and energizing oils into the air. AromaWeb offers a comprehensive article entitled All About Diffusers that explain the differences in diffusers and diffusion methods. At work, on aircraft or in situations where you need to be careful of the others around you, you can place a drop or two of your chosen essential oil or essential oil blend onto a cotton ball or tissue and keep that close to you.
Air Freshener/Room Spray
Alternatively, you can create an uplifting, energizing or calming air freshener that is safer and much more natural than most of the commercial air fresheners available. AromaWeb offers an air freshener recipe that you can customize.
Self massage is a wonderful way to quickly and regularly obtain the benefits of massage. Gently massage your feet, legs, arms and hands with a soothing massage oil made with skin care essential oils and nutritive carrier oils. It not only feels great, but it helps to relieve stress, improve circulation and the oils help to nourish your skin. Choose essential oils that match the emotional outlook that you are seeking. Choose skin safe energizing and uplifting oils for early morning massages or calming/relaxing oils for nighttime massages. Like bathing, massage is stimulating to your circulation and should generally be avoided immediately before bedtime.
Skin and Hair Care Products
Consider making your own skin and hair care products that that both nourish your skin/hair. You can include uplifting or calming essential oils that may also help reduce the emotional symptoms of depression or sadness. AromaWeb's Recipe Box area provides recipes that will start you on your way. Additionally, AromaWeb's Book Shelf area provides an array of books that provide detailed instructions and information on making your own products from scratch.
Aromatic Cotton Ball by Bedside
Add a drop of a calming essential oil like Roman Chamomile Oil or Lavender Oil to a tissue or cotton ball and place that near your pillow at bedtime. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil is considered a natural sedative. Another essential oil that possesses sedating properties is Clary Sage Oil. If you suffer from insomnia, read AromaWeb's Aromatherapy for Insomnia article and consider trying AromaWeb's Insomnia Recipe.
Bed Linen Spray
Create a calming aromatherapy bed linen spray and lightly spray your sheets before bedtime.
Place one or two drops of an essential oil onto the back edge of your tub or shower, in an area where the undiluted oil will not directly touch your skin. Be sure that your tub/shower surface won't be discolored by the highly concentrated essential oil. The heat and steam from your shower will gently heat the oil causing it to evaporate and provide you with an aromatic shower. For morning and daytime showering, choose energizing and uplifting essential oils like rosemary, geranium, cypress or orange. If you shower in the evenings, choose from essential oils that offer more calming and relaxing properties such as Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Rose, Sandalwood, or Mandarin.
Bathing is a wonderful way to relax, but avoid taking a bath immediately before bedtime. Hot water can increase your circulation and make it hard to fall asleep. Instead, plan to finish your bathing ritual about an hour before bed. For a moisturizing and more aromatic experience, try AromaWeb's Bath Oil recipe. You can use this basic recipe and adapt it using your calming oils of choice. AromaWeb's Aromatherapy Baths article provides additional information regarding aromatic bathing. Remember that essential oils should never be added directly to bathwater.
The minerals in natural salts, especially Dead Sea salts, help to relax muscles which in turn can help you to relax overall. AromaWeb's offers a Bath Salts recipe that teaches you how to naturally fragrance your chosen bath salts with essential oils. Be sure to select essential oils that are calming and safe for your skin.
AromaWeb's Aromatherapy for Emotional Well-Being Article provides information and a categorized list of essential oils that may potentially help with the feelings of depression, anxiety, exhaustion, fear, grief, and more.
Other Ways to Help Ease Feelings of Depression
Eating and Nutrition
Depression can cause overeating for some individuals and loss of appetite for others. Eating a healthy diet full of nutritionally-rich foods can nourish your body so that it can naturally help balance your emotions and naturally overcome depression. If you are overeating by way of fast foods, pizza, desserts, sweets and other fattening or sugary comfort foods, you may still be starving your body of the nutrients that will help you naturally ward off depression and sadness. Strive to modify your diet to include nutritionally rich foods. Making a radical and sudden change, especially when depressed, can be overwhelming and cause you to quickly give up, so make the changes gradually. Set modest goals, and take pride in yourself when you have reached the goal. Learn more about nutrition and eating naturally by talking to your medical practitioner, consulting with a qualified nutritionist who can tailor suggestions based on your particular health situation and by reading up on the subject. Ask your doctor for advice on adding a vitamin/mineral supplement to your diet.
Exercise is a natural way to help ease stress. Exercise helps to flex and strengthen the muscles and helps to eliminate the tension that builds up within them. Exercise also helps to speed up circulation and increases your intake of oxygen. When depressed, it can be especially hard at first to achieve the motivation needed to exercise, but regular physical activity can be a powerful way to help combat the feelings of depression, and improve your overall energy level. Exercising is also a great way to take your mind off of any situations that may be the source of your depression. Discuss a fitness plan with your medical doctor first. If the idea of exercising seems overwhelming, start off slowly with modest goals. Often, once you start a simple routine and start noticing how your physical and emotional outlook improves, it is easy to move forward.
I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about depression by reading, talking with experts, and soliciting ideas from friends who suffer from depression. Several life changing events in my past also gave me a first-hand glimpse at the feelings and symptoms of depression. One suggestion in particular has constantly surfaced and I have personally found it to be effective: volunteering and helping others. The idea is that if you focus on the needs of others, it can help you feel rewarded and forget, at least temporarily, your own personal struggles. Consider volunteering at a local non-profit organization, shelter, your church or other establishment. If that isn't possible, there are still other ways that you can help others. If you like to knit, for instance, make a blanket for someone who could use one. If you like to cook, see if there is a shelter or nursing home in your area that would welcome a batch of cookies. If you have expertise on a subject, find message boards and communities online where you can share your advice with others that need it.
Music, Television and Movies
When depressed, it's easy to lean towards watching sad or violent shows/movies or listening to depressing music or sad love songs that remind you of your lost love.
Music can illicit powerful emotions. Focus on listening to musical styles that are upbeat, energizing or soothing. Avoid music and lyrics that may emphasize a negative emotional state, and steer clear of songs that trigger sad memories. Just like with the suggestions for music, focus on watching television shows and movies that are more positive and upbeat.
Other Ideas to Help Reduce the Feelings of Depression
There are many other ideas for activities and practices that can help you improve your outlook or distract you from any situational triggers that are affecting you. Discussing your situation with your qualified medical practitioner.