When we use the word ‘healthy’ to describe someone, we often refer to their physical well being, not mental health. But we can’t see into someone else head, or really know what they are going through without asking. Depression and anxiety are much more common than we think, affecting over 40 million adults each year in the U.S.
For those suffering there are many ways to go about addressing these challenges, and they all are worth investigating. But that requires several individual conversations. So for now, we will focus on the use of supplements like essential oils that have been shown to provide support for the mind. While not a permanent solution that will fix serious underlying issues, essential oils may be another tool that offers that little extra support during especially challenging moments.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are condensed extracts from plants, containing various compounds such as volatile oils. Traditionally, these oils have been used to cure ailments and relieve small aches and pains, but now we understand that they can have an impact on your mind.
Keep in mind that brands that specialize in quality oils that don’t use fillers can be very potent and will need to be diffused. This means that you will never want to directly massage large amounts of the oil on your skin, and you should never ingest them unless they are specifically marked as an oral supplement.
If applied to the skin, first mix them with a carrier oil. Some people apply the concentrated oil on the wrist or temple, but be careful not to go overboard as this can make you incredibly sick or lead to skin disorders.
A more practical and less messy way to use essential oils is through a diffuser, which is a device that is very similar to a humidifier, but different (do not add essential oils to your humidifier as you can damage it.) You can also add a few drops in your shower or bath.
Whatever method you prefer, it is best to be in a place where you are calm and relaxed to absorb the full effects.
What Essential Oils Should You Try?
Bergamot is a commonly used essential oil for its pleasant scent, but it packs more than just an aromatic punch. Bergamot is great for depression because it is a stimulating scent that can promote feelings of joy, energy, and freshness by improving blood circulation. A 2011 study found that it lowered anxiety. Bergamot may be the ideal scent for a common area, creating a blanket of comfort throughout the area.
While bergamot can stand on its own, combined with lavender essential oil, another essence shown to promote calm and peace of mind, it can do wonders. Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils. It is known for its soothing scent as well as its calming capabilities, whether through diffusion, steam, or even as a massage oil. A 2013 study stated that taking 80 milligrams a day of lavender essential oil as an oral supplement helped to alleviate anxiety and depression.
Using lavender oil as a treatment for these illnesses is said to have the same results as anti-anxiety medication. A study showed that after just four weeks of lavender aromatherapy, women showed an improvement in postpartum depression and anxiety. Another study revealed that people who suffered from PTSD showed less anxiety, had fewer sleep disturbances, were less moody, and reported feeling overall healthier after using lavender aromatherapy.
Chamomile is another commonly used oil for relaxation and sleep. Chamomile has long been used in teas as part of pre-bedtime rituals, but it does not necessarily make you sleepy. Instead, it aids in sleep by reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It is considered a medicinal herb and according to research is recommended as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression.
In addition to the previously listed oils, ylang ylang is another promising essence to help fight depression and negative thoughts. A quick whiff of this and studies have shown it can fight feelings such as anger (by lowering your blood pressure), low self-confidence, and even jealousy.
Clary Sage Oil
Last but not least, Clary sage oil is another uplifting extract that can be used daily. The word “clary” has Latin roots derived from ‘clarus,’ meaning ‘clear.’ This oil lives up to its name, known for providing clarity, calm, and contentment. It has also been shown to lift moods and cause feelings of euphoria, and is suggested to “clear away dark clouds.” This oil can be administered before bed or in the bath for a relaxing soak.
Seek Out Additional Help
These are just a few of the essential oils you can try for mental health concerns. But mental health is a complicated issue with no single solution. Always speak with a qualified medical professional about your mental health concerns. If you aren’t using essential oils already, ask whether any of the oils talked about here can be combined with an existing therapy or used as a primary tool for helping you to achieve confidence of body and mind.