Using Essential Oils for Depression

Using Essential Oils for Depression

More often, people are seeking alternative treatments for depression that can either replace or complement medication and therapy. Essential oils are growing in popularity for their healing and calming effects on the nervous system. Each essential oil has its own chemical makeup that reacts with the brain to produce different effects.

Using essential oils for depression as part of your daily routine can help to minimize the severity and frequency of this condition. Over time, it can decrease the amount of depressive episodes you experience. Chapel Hill Detox in West Palm Beach offers treatment for depression and co-occurring substance abuse.

How Does Depression Affect the Brain?

depressed womanAlthough depression is still not entirely understood, studies have shown that during episodes of depression the brain is flooded with cortisol (stress hormone) and “feel-good” neurotransmitters are significantly less active. This misfiring in the brain’s chemical makeup can be caused by a lot of different things.

In many cases, depression is genetic and passed down through generations. In other cases, depression is a result of extended exposure to stress and negative environments. The brain adjusts to its surroundings very easily. So, when stress is a constant-it likely stops feeling the need to experience more positive emotions.

The most common treatment for depression is a combination of therapy and medication. Medication for depression is intended to change the chemical makeup of the brain, shifting it back toward more positive and healthy activity. There are, however, many unwanted side effects of medication that many people are not willing to cope with. Oftentimes, medication will prove less effective overtime, therefore creating a need for an alternative method.

Whatever the reason for seeking a more holistic approach to depression, essential oils can support a depression treatment plan. They can even boost just the occasional negative emotional state.

How Do Essential Oils Improve Mental Health?

Natural healers have been aware of the healing components of plants for hundreds of years. In fact, plants were the main source of medicine for both mental and physical health prior to the rise of western pharmaceuticals.

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. Within these extracts are chemical compounds that, when combined with brain chemicals, can have a positive interaction. These extracts can come from flowers, stems, bark, and roots. Each part of the plant has its own benefit.

While plants can be ingested to heal the body from the inside, essential oils are usually used topically in the method of aromatherapy. Positive feed to the 6 senses can each have a positive effect on the brain. Think of when you see something beautiful, hear a favorite song, or touch someone you love — you get an instant mood boost.

Sense is actually considered one of the most influential of the senses, so inhaling these healing extracts for a duration of time has its benefits.

Top Essential Oils for Depression and Mental Health

There are hundreds of different essential oils that can be used for improving overall health. When looking for the best oils to treat depression, researchers keep the specific chemical compounds that play a part in depression in mind. The essential oils for depression that studies have shown have the biggest positive impact include:

Wild Ginger

Wild ginger oil has numerous healing properties and directly affects the serotonergic system in the body. This system correlates to “feel-good” neurotransmitters, and using oils to improve this system acts in a similar way that antidepressants would.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is one of the more common oils used for aromatherapy. Its flowery smell and calming effects help to lower cortisol levels and regulate the nervous system. Lavender oil can be used as aromatherapy (inhaling) or massaged into the skin.

Lavender has been proven to reduce levels of anxiety and depression, and is even given to people before medical procedures (or women giving birth!)  Lavender can encourage improved mood, better sleep, and overall well being.


Chamomile is used to lower levels of anxiety and is a natural antihistamine. This means that similar to a medication like benadryl, chamomile can lower inflammation levels in the body. Inflammation has a direct link to depression, making this a great essential oil option for a nighttime routine. Chamomile is a popular tea, but can be extracted as an oil and inhaled.


Cedarwood has been used as an anti-anxiety and anti-stress supplement for people who suffer from mild daily stress. It can be used for short periods of time or as part of a daily routine. There are several types of cedarwood, each with their own healing properties. A study conducted on rats showed that the rats who were exposed to cedarwood showed less signs of anxious or depressive behavior, as compared to those who did not.


Frankincense is another popular oil for depression. Frankincense, when inhaled for a duration of time, can boost mood and decrease cortisol levels. It also activates the part of the brain known for “feel good” hormones. Frankincense is often used in hospitals to help treat the emotional aspect of chronic pain, terminal illness, and other conditions that may lead to a strong depressive reaction.

Other Oils

Other types of essential oils that have been shown to improve depression and reduce anxiety include:

  • Essential Oil HumidifierRose Oil
  • Grapefruit Oil
  • Jasmine
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Clary Sage
  • Tangerine Oil
  • Wild Orange
  • Bergemont

You want to make sure that any essential oil you are purchasing is high quality-especially if you are going to put it directly onto your skin. Since essential oils are gaining popularity, sometimes manufacturers will mix low quality ingredients to reduce the price. To ensure you are getting a high quality oil, look for bottles less than 4 ounces that have a very potent scent.

How to Use Aromatherapy For Depression

Using essential oils for aromatherapy can be done through inhaling the oil, rubbing the oil directly onto the skin, or with the use of a diffuser. Some ways people effectively use essential oils include:

  • Adding a few drops to an oil diffuser and allowing the room to fill with the desired scent
  • Inhaling the oil directly from the bottle
  • Putting a few drops onto a cotton ball or the base of the wrist and inhaling it as desired
  • Adding drops into a bottle of massage oil/lotion and rubbing onto the skin
  • Mixing some essential oil into your favorite bath products for aromatherapy bath

Other Holistic Treatments For Depression

If you are looking for alternative methods of treatment for depression, essential oils are only one of the many ways to supplement traditional methods. Holistic treatment uses natural practices to heal the mind, body, and soul. The understanding of holistic treatment is that each part of a person affects the other- so if anything is out of balance there may be negative side effects.

If you are looking to try alternative methods of healing for your addiction or co-occurring mental health condition, a few to consider include:

  • yoga and meditationAcupuncture
  • Nutritional Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Energy Healing (Reiki, Meditation,etc.)
  • Dance/expression therapy
  • Yoga

Holistic treatments can be used to help treat depression, but can also be used as a part of your everyday life after treatment for numerous health benefits.

Traditional Treatment Options for Depression at Chapel HIll Detox

Chapel Hill Detox offers dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression and addiction. This usually consists of:


During this first step of treatment, medical professionals remove harmful substances from the patient’s body. This usually involves the use of medication that mimics the effect of your substance of choice. In medical detox, the body becomes less physically dependent on drugs and alcohol.

Inpatient Treatment

Once detox is complete, we move our patients to inpatient treatment for a designated amount of time. Inpatient treatment is best for people with severe addiction and mental health issues. While in our inpatient rehab program, you’ll receive round-the-clock care from our dedicated staff. You’ll also have access to different therapy programs, including:

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy involves one-on-one sessions with you and a licensed mental health counselor. You’ll discover how your addiction led to your depression and vice versa.

Group Therapy

In group therapy, you’ll share your experiences with addiction and depression with several peers. A therapist will guide you in different exercises like role play.

We understand that each client has their own individual story and needs. Depression can be a difficult mental health condition and often co-occurs with substance abuse disorder. Whether you are predisposed to it or it’s a result of life circumstances, supplementing your depression treatment plan with essential oils and aromatherapy can be a great option.

Get Quality Treatment at Chapel Hill Detox

Chapel Hill Detox has medically trained staff specializing in addiction and mental health. Upon entry to our facilities, staff will be able to understand which treatment programs and services best suit you.  We take pride in our ability to offer treatment options that meet everyone’s individualized needs. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about our treatment options for addiction and co-occurring depression, contact our staff to find out!




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