19 essential oils for depression

essential oils for depressionEveryone gets depressed from time to time, and treating yourself with medications can sometimes make the problem worse. However, there are alternatives—you can try essential oils for depression.

Anxiety and depression affect many people, and it isn’t always easy to just shrug it off. Turning to drugs may seem like a quick and easy fix, but often times, those medications come with side effects, are hard to wean off of, or can make the condition worse. Aromatherapy is considered an all-natural way to address nervous system disorders like depression. It involves the use of essential oils to fight the condition and prevent further episodes.

How do essential oils for depression work?


Essential oils used to treat depression may sound odd, but here is how the oils actually work. The chemicals in the oils interact with the body after being absorbed through the skin. Alternatively, they can stimulate areas of the brain through inhalation.

When specific nerve cells in the upper part of the human nose detect smells, they can send an impulse to the brain and along a nerve called the olfactory, eventually reaching an area called the olfactory bulb. This bulb then processes the impulse and delivers information about smell to other sections of the brain. These other parts are referred to as the limbic system. This set of brain structures is believed to play an important role in helping control our behavior, emotions, memory, and mood.

19 essential oils for depression

There are many different essential oils you can turn to for treating depression, but the best essential oils for depression are those that stimulate the limbic system. They can increase emotional well-being by encouraging the release of positive neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Some oils also have a sedative impact to help with anxiety.

The following list includes some of the best essential oils for depression:

Clary Sage

Research suggests that clary sage modifies dopamine pathways, making it an effective antidepressant. It has a calming impact on the nerves and is known to help increase confidence.


This oil has a long medicinal history that goes back to the biblical era. Frankincense essential oil for depression is a popular approach, as it tends to promote mental peace and relaxation. Breathing in frankincense is a common practice.


This has been used for over 2,000 years as a treatment for various ailments. It is considered a potent natural anti-depressant since it can stimulate the production and release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.


The earl gray tea that so many people love has a distinct taste because it contains a small amount of bergamot. Bergamot oil is actually a hormone balancer and anti-depressant thanks to containing alpha pinene and limonene.


Because it has high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, it helps reduce stress-inducing free radicals. It can be very calming on the nervous system. Some people suggest basil oil gives them energy.


This essential oil has a sedative effect that helps relieve stress and depression.


This oil contains geraniol, which is a proven antidepressant. It promotes relaxation and happiness.


Many people find that geranium oil helps calm their anxiety and increase their positive emotions. Some research suggests that it has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving abilities.


Both roman chamomile and German chamomile are considered calming. The German variety is also known as a powerful anti-inflammatory.


This oil is a sedative, and like other essential oils, it contains geraniol. Neroli is extracted from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree.


The leaves and twigs of orange trees have linalyl acetate in them, which can have a sedative impact. Petitgrain oil comes from these leaves and twigs. Since neroli oil, which also comes the orange tree, can be much more expensive, petitgrain is often called, “poor mans Neroli”.


This oil is a mood lifter and is extracted from orange peels. It contains geraniol, alpha-pinene, and limonene—all anti-depressant constituents. It has a very pleasant scent and has been proven to reduce heart rate and cortisol levels due to stress and anxiety.

Ylang Ylang

This oil is known to help balance hormones. Hormone fluctuations are a common cause of mood swings and depression.


Known for its pleasant scent, this essential oil can be effective in lifting mood. Research indicates that it can increase dopamine and serotonin.


This essential oil has the ability to ease anxiety and calm the mind. In fact, some people who have suffered from insomnia find that it helps them finally get to sleep. For this reason, some people call valerian the “natural valium.”


This is a very popular essential oil that can help fight depression, anxiety, and insomnia.


This is an antidepressant with sedative effects.


Known as a mood lifter, sandalwood essential oil has become very popular in recent years due to its pleasant aroma.


This oil helps reduce stress by increasing a sense of relaxation. Research suggests it can reduce blood pressure and increase blood circulation thus helping to calm the body and mind.

When it comes to choosing an essential oil to treat depression, it often depends on personal preference. For instance, there may be some aromas that you find offensive or certain aromas that you happen to really like. Also, while one essential oil may not be effective in combating your anxiety and depression, another essential oil just might work. What is fortunate is that there are so many essential oils that seem to have great potential when it comes to treating depression.

Blends of essential oils for depression

Not every case of depression is the same. Just like different medications are used to treat different types of depression, different blends of essential oils can be used to address various levels of sadness. Let’s look at some essential oil recipes for depression, starting with some general, classic blends.

Classic blends for depression:

  • Clary sage 15 drops, Lavender 5 drops, and bergamot 10 drops
  • Rose 10 drops, Sandalwood 15 drops, and lemon 5 drops
  • Neroli 20 drops and petitgrain 10 drops

Now, here’s a look at some blends for some other types of depression. Light weepy depression means that while people may not notice any significant changes in the person who is suffering, there are times when that individual has tearful episodes. Moderate and severe weepy depression is more obvious and can impact daily life, including personal relationships and work.

Light weepy: Sandalwood 15 drops, Geranium 10 drops, and Ylang Ylang 5 drops.

Moderate weepy: Geranium 23 drops, Chamomile 2 drops, and Benzoin 5 drops.

Agitated depression is best described as being aggravated, angry, and restless. It occurs in a light, moderate, and deep form. There are specific essential oil blends for this type of depression as well.

Light agitation: Lavender 15 drops, Chamomile 5 drops, and Bergamot 10 drops

Moderate agitation: Cedarwood Atlas 20 drops and Orange 10 drops

Deep agitation: Cedarwood Atlas 5 drops, Lemon 15 drops, Chamomile 5 drops, and spikenard 5 drops.
With any blend, it is best to dilute with one fluid ounce of carrier oil, such as coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. If you are thinking about using essential oils for severe depression, it is important to talk to a healthcare professional first.

Ways to use essential oils for depression

There are different methods for using essential oils for depression. For example, you can inhale them thanks to diffusion, which releases essential oils into the air. Diffusers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Another way is to simply inhale essential oils that you rub onto your hands. Some people apply the oil directly to their body, while others use a carrier oil, which is a supportive oil that you mix your oils with to dilute and make the application more practical. Rubbing the oil into the chest, neck, bottoms of feet, wrists or behind the ear are common application sites. Another popular method is to put essential oils in a relaxing bath.
Here are examples of relaxing essential diffusion recipes: 2 drops of Clary Sage oil, 2 drops of Vetiver Oil and 4 drops of Bergamot oil. Add this to 100ml of water for use in your diffuser. Alternatively, try 4 drops of Neroli oil, 4 drops of Ylang Ylang, 2 drops of Lavender oil and 2 drops of Sandalwood oil.

If a bath is more appealing to you, try this recipe: 15 drops of Lavender oil, 15 drops of Rose oil and 10 drops of Sandalwood oil. This should be mixed with ¼ cup of Epsom salt to disperse the oil; otherwise, the oil is likely to float to the surface of the tub.


If you know that your depression is associated with hormones then you will probably be best to try an essential oil hormone balance blend. This kind of blend has the potential to suppress stress hormones and increase serotonin. The following recipe is for a diffuser: Mix 2 drops of Orange oil, 4 drops of Ylang Ylang oil, 2 drops of Vetiver oil and 2 drops of Sandalwood oil (optional) and add the blend to 100 ml of water. Increase the drop amounts as you increase the water amount. The sandalwood is optional, for added relaxation.

There are many other recipes that you can experiment with. A qualified aromatherapist can provide you with guidelines for essential oil use, but it is also important to keep your doctor in the loop. While there is more evidence today that essential oils can be effective for those grappling with the symptoms of depression, you should continue to be open with your healthcare provider. He or she should be made aware of any changes in your state of mind and of any remedies that you are using to help combat depression.

Related: Recent study evaluates yoga as part of depression treatment



Related Reading:

Depression affects males and females differently

Depression and chronic fatigue syndrome: How are they linked?