How Aromatherapy Helps Anxiety and Depression

Essential oils help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression while elevating your mood.

Aromatherapy has been used throughout the ages, for everything from religious rituals to fighting the bubonic plague. It’s purported to have many therapeutic properties, including the ability to reduce stress and elevate your mood – making it an ideal tool to have in your arsenal to battle anxiety or depression. Understanding the impact essential oils have on how you feel can help you live a more peaceful and purposeful life.

Aromatherapy reduces stress and elevates mood, making it ideal to help treat anxiety and depression.
Aromatherapy can reduce stress and elevate your mood.

The science behind scents

Aromatherapy seems like a simple concept – and it is – but it’s more scientifically-grounded than just enjoying a pleasant smell. Many plants and trees contain terpenes, which are fragrant molecules that create the aroma associated with essential oils.

According to Josh Kaplan, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, “The fragrant molecules are basically oils that release a therapeutic scent. The scent is greater when the terpenes are combusted because they become aerosolized at high temperatures, but they also release a scent in their natural state.”

When you smell the fragrance of an essential oil, there’s more going on than you may think. The process goes something like this:

  • Molecules dissolve in the lining of the olfactory epithelium in the nasal cavity, stimulating olfactory receptors.
  • Then olfactory sensory neurons carry the signals to the olfactory bulb, which filters and processes the input signals.
  • Mitral cells transfer the output signals from the olfactory bulb to the olfactory cortex, which is when you recognize the scent.
  • Those same cells also carry signals to parts of the brain’s limbic system, such as the amygdala, which is also involved in memory and emotional learning.
The olfactory system is connected to the area of the brain that regulates  emotion.
The olfactory system is connected to the area of the brain that regulates emotion.

This series of event explains why memories are often connected so strongly to specific scents. In fact, the olfactory system is the only sense that directly involves the amygdala and limbic system.

The study of smells

So, from a biological standpoint, it makes sense that essential oils can affect the way we feel. There’s also some evidence to back it up:

  • An evaluation of the aromatherapy service offered as part of the Surrey Oaklands NHS Trust’s Day Hospital treatment plan offered massages to two groups of patients experiencing anxiety and depression. One group received six massages with grape seed carrier oil, while the other group received massages in an identical setting but with essential oils known for reducing anxiety and depression. A series of surveys throughout the process showed a significant difference between the two groups, with a marked improvement in the aromatherapy group.
  • A study at the Mie University School of medicine found that patients with depressive symptoms needed smaller doses of anti-depressant medication after a citrus fragrance treatment. The citrus fragrance normalized neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune function, according to researchers.
  • The University of Vienna discovered that the scent of orange oil reduced anxiety when used in dental clinics, particularly in females. The group that was exposed to an aromatherapy diffuser had a higher percentage of women report that they felt less stress, a better mood, and an improved sense of calmness, indicating that natural essential oil of orange had sedative effects.
Use aromatherapy in your arsenal of tools to combat anxiety or depression.
Easing anxiety or depression requires an arsenal of treatment tools.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety are not a sign of weakness or an indicator of personal failure; they’re medical issues. As such, it’s important that you discuss these issues with your doctor and take their advice seriously.

However, when you’re struggling emotionally, it’s imperative that you use all of the tools that are available to you. Put essential oils to work in your fight against anxiety or depression and enjoy your life to the fullest.

Breathe better air wherever you go and feel better everywhere with KININ’s discreet personal essential oil diffuser.

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