It is estimated that around one in every fifteen people visit their doctor complaining of depression with one in every thousand ending up in hospital because of the condition. Depression can affect sufferers on a physical, mental or emotional level and can make ordinary daily activities difficult to perform.
There are different levels of depression with symptoms ranging from persistent sadness or emptiness, excessive crying, feelings of guilt and helplessness through to thoughts of death and suicide. Sufferers of depression often feel mentally and emotionally drained making it difficult to implement lifestyle changes that may offer relief.
Although there is no single underlying medical cause for depression, the general consensus amongst doctors is that the illness is caused by an imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are chemical messengers that transmit signals from one nerve to the other. Aromatherapy and essential oils can assist in altering moods by stimulating the production of neurotransmitters to the brain, which in turn regulates behavior and helps in the fight against depression.
While aromatherapy is not a cure for depression, using essential oils known to be emotionally uplifting can help relieve tension, stress, and anxiety, and promote a general sense of wellbeing. Oils that have been used in the treatment of depression include –
- Basil – Good tonic for treatment of nervous disorders with an uplifting effect on depression
- Bergamot – Helps to revitalise and promote a positive frame of mind
- Cedarwood – Ability to calm and soothe nerves, reduce tension and ease stress
- Chamomile – Calming and relieving herbal aroma
- Clary Sage – A Positive and uplifting aroma favoured by women
- Frankincense – Beneficial aroma for anxiety with anti depressant properties
- Geranium – Helps to relax, balance and stimulate the system
- Grapefruit – Refreshing oil with an uplifting effect that helps with stress and depression
- Lavender – Much loved aroma that aids relaxation
- Lemon – Good room fragrance that is refreshing, revitalising and uplifting
- Jasmine – Helps to produce optimistic feelings as well as euphoria and confidence
- Neroli – Relaxing oil with an ability to relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, fear and stress
- Rose – Helps with emotional distress and ideal for massage use
- Sandalwood – Calming effect that reduces tension and ideal for depression, stress and anxiety
- Orange – Offers a sunny warm sensation that lifts the spirits
- Ylang Ylang – Helps to restore the natural balance of the body
Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Instead, dilute them in a carrier oil first. If you are pregnant, suffer from high blood pressure, epilepsy or any other medical condition, do not use essential oils before consulting with your doctor or physician.
For massage purposes, blend four to five drops of essential oil to 10ml of carrier oil. If being used for children or the elderly, this ratio should be halved.
For bathing, add six drops of essential oil directly to the bath water or blend with a carrier oil for the added moisture.
To produce a relaxing room fragrance, put four to five drops of essential oil into an oil burner.