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10 Best Essential Oils for Depression

By Jodi Cohen

A woman with her arms crossed.

Depression is a mood disorder that can affect how you feel both physical and emotional, and alter how you think, function and interact with others.  Depression is a common reaction to grief or loss, including the death of a loved one, end of a significant relationship, or loss of a job.

Depression can present as the following symptoms:

  • Sadness
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy or increased fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Irritability and short-temper
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Lack of confidence and low self esteem
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Sense of hopelessness and negative thinking patterns


Research on Essential Oils for Depression

Essential oils can be “as an effective therapeutic option for the relief of depressive symptoms in a wide variety of subjects,” according to the National Institutes of Health Systematic Review on The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy for Depressive Symptoms.

Essential oils for depression were found to help lift depressive symptoms and elevate mood, especially when applied topically.  Essential oils can be used to relieve some of the psychological and physical symptoms linked with depression, such as improving sleep, reducing anxiety and enhancing mood.

Similarly, your sense of smell links directly to the area of the brain which stores and releases emotional trauma, known as the amygdala in the limbic lobe of your brain. Your limbic system helps to control emotions, mood, pain, pleasure and behavior, all of  which drive emotional responses  like happiness, sadness, fear and anger.

Smell has a direct route to the limbic system, as it is physically located near the olfactory bulb, and often can help calm our emotional response to external stimili, that can trigger feelings of depression.  Learn more about the Limbic System HERE.

Essential oils can also “affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function,” that relate to feelings of depression, according to a study conducted in Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany.

The study found Jasmine essential oil (contained in our Heart blend) to be ‘as calming as valium’.  Brain scans found Jasmine enhanced the calming effect of neurotransmitter GABA, which can help soothe, relieve anxiety and promote rest.

Essential oil blends are more beneficial in combination, according to a study that tested essential oils hospice patients with terminal cancer.  An essential oil blend made with frankincense, lavender, and bergamot essential oils helped participants experience significantly less pain and depression.


10 Best Essential Oils for Depression

1. Uplift™

Formulated with uplifting oils like Frankincense, Blue Tansy, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Lime, Mandarin, Lavender, and Rose, Uplift™ is designed to alleviate depression, promote feelings of strength, courage, and protection and return a sense of calm, joy and peace to our lives.  In particular, Ylang Ylang may support “a relief of depression and stress in humans,” according to a 2006 study.  Ylang Ylang is also a mild sedative and may help promote hormonal balance and calm mood swings, irritability and depression.  A 2012 study found that roman chamomile oil provides, “clinically meaningful antidepressant activity.”   Chamomile also helps fight stress and promote relaxation. According to research from Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Pharmacognosy Review, chamomile essential oil is often recommended as a natural remedy for anxiety and general depression.

Apply  2 -3 drops of Uplift™ to the vagal nerve (behind earlobe, on mastoid bone) over heart, wrists, temples and forehead.

2.  Parasympathetic®

Stimulating the vagus nerve “can significantly reduce multiple symptoms of depression, including anxiety, sleep disturbance, and hopelessness,” according to recent studies.  Essential oils, like Parasympathetic®, offer a non-invasive tool for naturally stimulating the vagus nerve.  Parasympathetic® is formulated from a synergistic combination of Clove, which is highly stimulatory combined with Lime oil, which has super small molecules.  The combination of these two oils creates a blend that is super stimulatory and very easily accessible through the skin and olfactory channels and serves as a far less invasive method for stimulating the vagus nerve.  In addition, research has demonstrated that citrus oils, like Lime, have been clinically proven to normalize “neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune function,” and were found to be “more effective than antidepressants.”

Applying  Parasympathetic® blend behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone helps to trigger the parasympathetic rest and digest response.   Read More about Parasympathetic for Depression HERE.

3. Adrenal®

Depression is a common symptom of Adrenal Fatigue, which impacts your vitality and your energy.  Adrenal hormones, like cortisol, are often associated with depression as they greatly impact cognitive function, mood and mental states.   The Adrenal® blend is designed to balance the extremes, calming the adrenals when too much cortisol is released and supporting them during periods of adrenal fatigue.  Supporting adrenal function with Adrenal® blend may help promote vitality and help relieve depression.

Apply 1- 2 drops of Adrenal® on the adrenal glands (on the lower mid-back, one fist above the 12th rib on each side). Dilute to start or if any redness occurs.

4. Heart™

Balances the heart to support, integrate and reset all the systems of the body, including mental clarity, physical health and emotional balance.  Supports feelings of open-heartedness, expansiveness, receptivity while mitigating loneliness, sadness and grief. Heart™ blend contains Jasmine essential oil which a study found to be ‘as calming as valium’.  In fact, brain scans found Jasmine enhanced the calming effect of neurotransmitter GABA, which can help relieve anxiety, promote rest and ease depression.

Apply 2-3 drops of Heart™ over the heart (left side of chest) 2- 3 times daily.

5. Lung™

Formulated to support the release of emotional grief and relieve depression.  The lungs function as a fundamental source of energy –transporting oxygen from the atmosphere into the capillaries so they can oxygenate blood – as well as an important channel of elimination – releasing carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere.  Feelings of grief or depression can obstruct ability of the lungs to accept and relinquish, impeding their function of “taking in” and “letting go”.   Formulated with oils known to support depression like Geranium, Bergamot, Lung Support™ helps overcome grief and depression and support you in letting go of negative experiences.  Bergamot has been shown to help treat depression, as a recent study found that bergamot improved mood, calmness and relaxation.

Apply 2- 3 drops of Lung Support™ over the lungs.

6.  Calm™

This calming blend of Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Blue Tansy and Patchouli helps to ease tension, reduce stress and promote relaxation to help alleviate depression. Patchouli, in particular, is known to help lift the mood and decrease feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Research suggests that, “patchouli oil is used to relieve depression, stress, calm nerves, control appetite and to improve sexual interest.”  Patchouli is also believed to trigger the release of the happy neurotransmitters in the brain, seratonin and dopamine, which may help alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.

Apply  2- 3 drops of Calm™ on the heart, nape of the neck, wrists and outside of ears.

7.  Anti Inflammatory

Inflammation may drive some depressive symptoms, such as low mood, loss of appetite and reduced ability to sleep.  A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry associated Clinical depression with a 30% increase of inflammation in the brain.  This could be because an inflamed brain has slower nerve conduction, which manifests as mood related symptoms such depression.  Topically applied essential oils for depression can play a huge role in helping deactivate inflammation in the brain so it can repair and heal. Essential oils are fat soluble and the brain is comprised primarily of fat so essential oils can easily cross the blood brain barrier and support the brain.

Anti-Inflammatory™ can be topically applied to regions of the brain to help turn off brain inflammation so the gut and the body can communicate and heal.  This blend contains several essential oils known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties, including Ginger and Frankincense.  Read More about Calming Brain Inflammation HERE.

8. Lavender

Lavender oil benefits mood and helps to battle depression. Several research studies have found lavender to be helpful in easing symptoms of depression.  For example, a 2012 study found that diffusing lavender correlated with a significant reduction of postnatal depression.  Lavender™ oil also helped to reduce depression associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Lavender™ oil, when used daily in a study, helped decrease depression by 32.7 percent and dramatically decreased sleep disturbances, moodiness and overall health status in 47 people suffering from PTSD.

Apply Lavender™ to the wrists, over the heart, nape of the neck or rubbed behind the ears.

9.  Rose

Rose essential oil promotes feelings of happiness, helps to boost confidence and combat depression.  It’s main constituent geraniol has well known anti-depressant properties.

Apply Rose over the heart, around the ears and on the wrists.

10.  Orange™

Orange™ essential oil can be a powerful anti-depressant that allowed study participants to “markedly reduce the amount of anti-depressants they took.”   A similar study found that treatment with the fragrance of citrus oils can be “more effective than antidepressants.”  This could be attributed to the fact that orange oil is extracted from the orange peel and contains geraniol, alpha-pinene, and limonene, which are all known to have antidepressant effects.

Apply Orange™ on the nape of the neck or on the wrists.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.