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Essential Oil Therapy For Depression

calendar June 11, 2021 user By Key To Recovery

The use of essential oils has been recorded as far back as 2000 BC. They have also been associated with many different cultures around the planet. As of the last decade or so, they have begun to make a comeback among pop culture. They are again being used therapeutically, in addition to treatment programs, for both physical and psychological illnesses. 

Oils for depression contribute toward achieving rewarding and sustainable mental and physical health in recovery. Essential oils for depression promote a state of well-being, established in the sense of peace aromatherapy can provide.

How Can Essential Oils Help Treat Depression

Incorporating aromatherapy, by means of essential oils, has shown significant ability to improve mood and alleviate some symptoms of depression. These oils for depression relief are really beneficial for those suffering from addiction, as depression symptoms are considered triggers. Although reducing stress is a necessity during addiction treatment, improved mood and focus are other bonuses of the natural remedy.

Understanding Depression

Understanding DepressionMany individuals that suffer from depression often go undiagnosed for long periods of time. Usually, this is due to adopting makeshift coping mechanisms in order to get through each day. The most unstable means of dealing with depression often leads down a dark road of self-medication and into the arms of addiction. In fact, many individuals that suffer from addiction and depression don’t realize they need help until after completing detox

Depression is a psychological illness that is usually treatable and even recoverable. Yet, it’s important to remember that it is often recurrent, and ongoing care may be required. Scientifically speaking, depression is understood to be a chemical imbalance in the brain. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Psychologically and emotionally, depression is most notably described as feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and sadness, although not exclusively, but persistently. 

Warning Signs of Depression

Some of the most common experiences and notable behaviors associated with depression are:

  • Becoming isolated from family and friends physically and emotionally
  • Feeling hopeless, empty, and alone
  • Appearing exhausted or totally overwhelmed after completing even the smallest task
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Feeling continuously restless, anxious, or irritable
  • Sensation of pain in the back or neck, often without explanation or practical treatment
  • Having difficulty expressing desires or making decisions without becoming frustrated

Therapy is a great place to start understanding an individual’s depression, especially when incorporated as part of addiction treatment. In fact, it is usually necessary, because depression is a potential trigger of relapse or worsening addiction. Feeling sad or upset at times is a part of life for everyone. However, when it lasts for extended periods of time with little relief, professional care is typically warranted.

Keep in mind, depression comes in many different shapes and sizes. Because each individual is different, as is their life experience, pinpointing what it means to be depressed can be very difficult. When substance abuse is involved, treating depression must be taken seriously, and treated professionally. To do otherwise would be to sabotage any potential long-lasting sobriety. 

Different Types of Depression Diagnosed With Addiction

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is commonly referred to as manic-depressive disorder. This type of depression is characterized by separate periods of depression, followed by mania, then depression again as a cycle. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that is related to climate and daylight. Individuals that experience severe or persistent depressed mood as a result of darker colder season cycles are diagnosed with SAD.

Psychotic Depression

Typically the most severe and disorientating, psychotic depression is characterized by the experience of delusions, hallucinations, and even paranoia. 

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is specific to women that experience distressing hormone fluctuations and debilitating emotions after childbirth. This type of depression affects more than just the mother. It has been associated with child neglect and can persist long term if not properly screened for and treated. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder

This type of depression is diagnosed when the illness continues over a longer duration without improvement. To qualify as a persistent depressive disorder, chronic depression symptoms are ongoing for more than 24 months without remedy. In this case, exhausting all therapeutic options, including essential oils for depression provides necessary ongoing or intermittent support. 

Dual Diagnosis: When Depression is Combined with Another Behavioral Illness 

What Are Essential Oils Exactly?The need to treat more than one illness, as a means to improve the other, is known as dual diagnosis. When diagnosed with depression and addiction in a dual diagnosis situation, the type of depression will determine the treatment. Although therapeutic approaches can vary, the use of essential oils for depression has shown to have a significant impact. 

Essential oils for drug addiction can have a mutual benefit in a dual diagnosis. Similarly, oils for depression can reduce the occurrence of triggers with addiction, or compulsiveness with illnesses such as OCD. Because of how the senses react upon coming into contact with different aromas, symptoms of multiple illnesses can improve simultaneously.

What Are Essential Oils Exactly?

Essential oils are plant extracts that give off potent odors and affect different parts of the brain when detected. They are helpful to induce a sense of relaxation, calm, or even increased mood and focus, depending on the scent. 

Essential oils for drug addiction and other mental illnesses are derived from multiple parts of different plants. The oil from the plant is extracted by means of cold press, steam, or water distillation. The broken-down concentrate, that is left, as a result, is the essential oil itself. Each part, such as flower, stem, leaf, bark, or sap have therapeutic properties that can contribute during treatment and therapy. 

What Essential Oils Can Contribute To Treatment

While working to manage depression, especially in the wake of addiction treatment, governing stress is going to be important. During treatment, especially residential rehab, external triggers are normally absent for the time being. However, once out of the facility back in the real world, extra steps may be needed for emotional maintenance. 

Because of the ways essential oils for depression work in the brain, it is a great practice for mindfulness. Participating in aromatherapy for brief periods throughout the day can improve mood and focus while deterring negative or draining thoughts. 

On top of improved psychological health, essential oils for depression may also benefit individuals physically. Stimulating the senses in a way that encourages energy and stamina, they can be incorporated into a wellness regime. These benefits, combined with antimicrobial and antifungal properties, are just the beginning of a long list of oils for depression.

Types of Essential Oils That Help Depression

Realistically, there are hundreds of essential oils available to treat numerous ailments.  However, there are some that specifically benefit from treating depression and even a few essential oils for addiction. The topmost notable oils for depression include:


Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils used today. It is incorporated into soaps and air fresheners and even fabric softeners, due to its incredibly clean floral scent. It is known to induce a sense of calmness and serenity, and can even improve sleep and restfulness. This natural mood-stabilizing oil for depression has even shown to produce similar effects as certain pharmaceuticals used for depression.


Bergamot is an essential oil known for its citrus-scented appeal. Some research suggests that it can minimize the severity of anxiety in, particularly stressful situations. Because of its ability to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, this is also a great essential oil for drug addiction. 


Ginger itself has been known to have relaxing properties when utilized in many ways such as food and medicine. Similarly, when incorporated into aromatherapy as oil for depression, it can regulate acute stress. Acting on hormones released in response to increased uncomfortability, ginger slows its release to inhibit feeling overwhelmed.

Not only that, but ginger also has an effect on the sensation that prompts nausea and stomach upset. Once again, just by subtly becoming aware of the scent, these uncomfortable symptoms may lessen significantly. 


Lemongrass essential oil is especially helpful during withdrawal and detox, or when depression weighs heavily on the body. This essential oil reduces stomach pain, helps soothe convulsions, eases muscle aches, joint pain, and inflammation. It may also contribute to a sharpening of focus, which can come in handy when depression brain fog closes in. 


Orange essential oil is another citrus-scented aroma that’s beneficial when working to manage physical symptoms of anxiety or depression. Orange essential oil for drug addiction might also be an option to lessen craving. It has the ability to decrease heart rate and chest pressure while inducing an uplifted mood. So while orange oil does contribute to elevated moods, it simultaneously helps to steady the emotions for an easy balance.


Yet another stress relieving and mood heightening scent, this essential oil for drug addiction and depression certainly smells intoxicating. Its heavy floral notes are hard to ignore and can fill an entire space with its immune-boosting benefits. Jasmine has been recognized by many as a fatigue-fighting perky scent, with a full and hearty floral note.

Other oils for depression that are often used in combination with these examples include:

  • Sandalwood
  • Neroli
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Peppermint

The beauty of using essential oil for depression, along with getting professional care, is as fun as it is beneficial. Experimenting with different scents and combinations for different occasions is an ongoing art that is always growing with its diversity. Depending on the method used to gain effect, an aromatherapy coping method can be used almost anywhere. 

Methods To Use Essential Oils for Depression

Types of Essential Oils That Help DepressionThere are so many ways to incorporate essential oils and depression treatment into your routine. The most common method, that is growing in popularity, is by use of a steam humidifier, called a diffuser. By dripping a few drops into the water tank, the oils can disperse subtly throughout the space without effort.

Other methods may be best for a fitness regime that is on the go. Applying them topically, or to a piece of clothing, offers the benefit of indulging in aromatherapy anywhere on demand. However, when used topically, many essential oils require a carrier oil for absorption, if that is the intention. 

Adding a few drops to your soap or shampoo really adds convenience to stress relief all day long. Better still, a few drops put in a bath allows time for some mindfulness while using oils for depression. No matter how you choose to participate in aromatherapy, it is important to do so safely. Like most things, moderation and awareness are important with oils, as nothing comes without risk. 

Are There Risks That Come With Using Essential Oils?

Although some oils can benefit those with asthma, some can also be harmful. Likewise, some essential oils for depression can cause an uncomfortable reaction when in contact with the skin. Sometimes, these oils can be diluted, or mixed with a carrier oil to avoid complications. However, this will be different for every individual.

Another potential fallback to be aware of is that some aromas don’t particularly agree with everyone. For example, an individual that suffers from anxiety would have increased unpleasant effects when abusing stimulant drugs. The same goes for certain oils. Or alternatively, the worsening of symptoms is seen by those abusing depressant drugs, like alcoholism, to cope with their depression.

The way around this is most often trial and error. However, during many holistic therapies, essential oils are incorporated for use by an experienced instructor who can offer valuable direction. The trick is to find one specific scent that induces a positive reaction and build from there.

Who Should NOT Use Essential Oils for Depression

Everything comes with a warning label, so it is important to connect with your doctor about any concerns. For the most part, individuals who have respiratory illness or damage should use caution or even refrain upon physician recommendation.

Children and women who are pregnant may also experience negative side effects to some essential oils for depression treatment. When breastfeeding, there are also increased risks, and precautionary measures should be taken. Using essential oils responsibly is the only way to truly benefit from them. 

Also, keep in mind that an essential oil that may be deemed beneficial to one, may be harmful to others. Take caution with use around animals and small children. Especially topically and orally, where oils like tea tree and lemongrass are particularly toxic. 

Other Ways to Treat Depression

Even though essential oils for depression work wonderfully to help manage symptoms, used alone it isn’t a solution. Depression is more than just how it makes a person feel, it is also an imbalance of brain chemicals. Without proper medical intervention, as well as professional coping tools, depression will likely worsen. 

One of the risks associated with worsening depression is the increased likelihood of self-medication that quickly leads to addiction.

Although there are essential oils for drug addiction through aromatherapy, it’s also only a secondary treatment for coping. In order to effectively treat depression for relief, essential oils and depression treatment should be simultaneous. Some other ways to treat depression include:

Individual and Specialized Therapy 

Working through depression, especially along with an addiction, can be difficult to navigate. However, in order to address deep-rooted emotions, a combination of different therapy options helps to cope.

These sessions are not always one-on-one, but some also take place in a group. Likewise, they dont always consist of one person talking, and the psychologist listening. Treatment options like experiential therapy keep it interesting while increasing effectiveness to gauge what will be the most beneficial treatment. 

Prescription Medication

Often, in order to treat the imbalance of neurotransmitters, as well as manage symptoms, antidepressants are prescribed. Typically, these drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and they provide relief both short and long-term. 

Much like the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during and after detox, they may need adjustment along the way. Along with oils for depression, the outlook is promising for many individuals.

More Advanced Techniques

In rare cases, some individuals do not respond to traditional therapy and medication for depression. Those individuals may be candidates for more intricate procedures, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation or even electroconvulsive therapy. 

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnets to stimulate different parts of the brain to ease depression. Although it is painless, scientists and healthcare professionals are not precisely sure how or why it works.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy is a bit more dynamic. It is performed under anesthesia and works by triggering controlled seizures to rewire parts of brain function. Although it does have promising results on certain mood disorders that are resistant to medications, it’s considered a last resort.   

The method of treatment best for each individual should be determined by a professional. Although essential oils for depression can contribute to feeling better, they are to be used in conjunction with professional care. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction or depression, do your best to get them involved with treatment. 

Essential Oils Are Not The Cure, But They Can Help

Essential oils for depression have been around for centuries. Throughout the ages, they have steadily provided relief for symptoms of illnesses, and continue to increase emotional wellness. Although they are not a cure for depression, they do alleviate many of the most debilitating factors associated with depression. 

If depression and addiction are wearing down and you are ready to make a change, reach out to treatment specialists. There are so many ways to begin to feel better, and all of them start with a commitment to yourself. Find out more information on oils for depression and addiction treatment. It’s never too late to try.