Why You Should Use an Essential Oil for Depression

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by Dr. Isaac Jones

Essential Oils for Depression

While everyone gets down and blue from time to time, some people are capable of bouncing back quickly and others aren’t. Or maybe life doesn’t even feel that exceptionally hard at the moment, but you still can’t knock this feeling like it’s sad anyway.

Do any of these sound like you?

  • You feel tired, empty, unmotivated
  • You know your mood is low and gloomy
  • You act irritability
  • You are no longer interested in hobbies or activities
  • You feel worthless, hopeless, guilty, helpless
  • You struggle to concentrate or sleep
  • You are anxious or nervous
  • You don’t want to have sex
  • You gain weight or have changes in your appetite
  • You have headaches, body aches, or digestive problems
  • You have thought about or attempted suicide (1)

If you relate to these sentiments, you may have depression. Don’t let any negative stigma about depression scare you or make you hide in shame. Depression is extremely common, and there are so many ways to start feeling better. I’m going to focus on one of my favorites with you right now: using an essential oil for depression.

Trying an essential oil for depression as a first line of defense is a great way to uplift your mood naturally and safely. You can diffuse them in your house, your office, or your car. You can add them to a diffuser necklace, so they’re with you all day. You can have roller bottles or massage oils to give you a boost of energizing joy when you’re in a tough moment.

The essential oils for happy mood I’m mentioning have been studied and researched by science, and they’ve been tested by countless people who deal with depression at all sorts of levels. I think they can bring you some hope, so read on!

What Causes Depression?

First off – it’s important to realize that depression is extremely complex.

Some medical conditions have a direct cause and effect; depression is more like a tangled web of multiple factors that may or may not produce a certain result.

Here are some of the factors that can lead to depression (2,3):

  • Faulty mood regulation (a problem in your brain)
  • Medical problems
  • Genetics
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Emotional Problems
  • Chronic Stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies (brought on by poor diet and/or not taking a good multi)
  • Food allergies
  • Alcoholism
  • Not enough sun exposure
  • Poor gut health
  • Toxins

Then keep in mind that there are so many different types of depression. Depression is not just one thing.

Sometimes people have a season of their life (maybe after a death of a loved one or a loss of a job/relationship) where they feel depressed and then come out of it. This is sometimes referred to as situational depression. However, sometimes the depression falls into a long list of different types of depression diagnoses, including (4):

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  • Major depressive disorder, also called clinical depression, which affects millions of people each year
  • Bipolar depression, which brings you from extremely high elation to extremely low hopelessness
  • Seasonal affective disorder, where the cooling of the weather and shorter days can bring lack of energy and sadness
  • Postpartum depression, where a combo of changing hormones, extreme fatigue, and the stress of parenting a newborn lead to strong feelings of sadness
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, where PMS becomes severe and leads to depression, sadness, and anxiety beyond the typical “not feeling so great”

The list could keep going on and on. The main point? There’s lots of causes and lots of types.

It’s important to stop for a second and make it clear that while anxiety and depression are two different things, anxiety very commonly accompanies depression, adding an extra layer of complexity. (That’s why I’m going to introduce you to some essential oils for anxiety and depression options below!)

Why Use Natural Solutions for Depression

One of the most common treatments for depression is prescription medication. But many times depression medications give you way more than you’ve bargained for.

Antidepressants are known for extreme side effects – from weight gain and lost libido to changes in personality and suicidal thoughts. Then there’s plenty of milder, but still annoying side effects like headaches, diarrhea, skin rashes, or joint pain.

One study even suggested that antidepressants are failing to properly deal with the symptoms of major depression in around half of those getting treatment – even in those receiving top-notch care (5).

There’s also the issue of waning effectiveness. Many times, as the years go by, the antidepressants that really helped your depression at the beginning start to be less effective. Then you have the issue of getting off antidepressants which can be exceedingly difficult – there’s dizziness, fatigue, blurry vision, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and more (6).

Fortunately, there are natural solutions that can help ease your depression symptoms. You can try natural strategies before you enter the world of pharmaceutical antidepressants, and even use these suggestions alongside your antidepressants if you’re already on medication. You can even rely on them heavily if you want to wean off your antidepressants.  Just be sure to clear any changes to your treatment plan with your doctor first.

Some of the top non-prescription ways to naturally help your depression are:

  • You can do a diet overhaul that focuses on healthy fats (especially omega-3s), a wide variety of fresh produce, and fermented/probiotic foods, while getting rid of inflammatory sugars and processed foods
  • You can get into a regular exercise routine, which has been shown time and time again to improve depression (as well as anxiety) (7)
  • You can get outside not only to feel refreshed by nature, but also to up your vitamin D levels
  • You can reach out to therapists and support groups to help you receive the encouragement and accountability you need
  • You can try supplements like omega-3 fatty acids or l-theanine (if you’re already on an antidepressant, talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement as it could interfere) (8)
  • You can start tackling hormone imbalance issues, which can be a root cause. Learn more about how to deal with estrogen dominance here.

But for this article, I want to focus on the role essential oils play in elevating your mood. Let’s dive in!

**Note: If you are feeling severely depressed or have suicidal thoughts, see your doctor immediately and follow their instructions. In time, you may be able to focus entirely on natural remedies and essential oils for happy mood, but right now you need medical intervention.

Best Essential Oil for Depression

Here’s the deal: the best essential oil for depression will actually be a blend of essential oils. There’s power in numbers, as they say. Plus, different oils have different strengths, so when you combine them you get a wide variety of benefits.

But I want to start by breaking down each essential oil for depression, so you can get a better idea of why you’d want to try each. In no way is this an exhaustive list of essential oils for happy mood, but these are my favorite – and ones that have a good amount of research to back them up.

  1. Wild Orange

You’re going to see a few citrus oils on this list, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Citrus scents are invigorating and energizing in general. It’s one of the reasons orange juice is such a widely popular morning drink. The first citrus essential oil for depression I’m going to highlight here is wild orange!

Wild orange is a great essential oil for anxiety and depression, and since we know the two often go hand-in-hand, it makes a great place to start.

Wild Orange essential oil has been shown to positively (9, 10,11, 12):

  • Calm the mind and body
  • Improve the mood
  • Increase serotonin (the neurotransmitter that’s often low in people with depression)
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Lower the heart rate

Wild orange is actually high in something called monoterpenes, which are hydrocarbons believed to be both uplifting and stimulating. This makes it a great choice when you’re feeling disinterested, unmotivated, or helpless (13).

  1. Bergamot

Our next essential oil for depression is bergamot, another citrus fruit. Hands down – bergamot is one of my favorite essential oils for happy mood because it can both help stimulate a depressed mood and calm an anxious mood. And bergamot is one of the oils that has been studied more in depth for its use in helping anxiety and depression.

For example, one study looked at 58 patients with terminal cancer living in hospice. They were divided into two groups: one group received a hand massage with regular massage oil and the other group received a hand massage with an aromatherapy oil combined with bergamot, lavender (we’ll talk about this one soon!), and frankincense.

Not only did those with the bergamot aromatherapy massage experience less pain, but they also experienced less depression (14).

On the anxiety side, another study focused on patients waiting for outpatient surgery, a time when stress is often quite high. When bergamot aromatherapy was used while they were waiting, the participants’ anxiety was greatly reduced (15).

  1. Lemon

We’re going to wrap up our citrus oils with lemon. Lemon is a top essential oil for anxiety and depression as well as seasonal affective disorder because it can boost both the serotonin and the dopamine neurochemicals (12, 16, 17, 18).

One study created an essential oil blend with mostly lemon and small additions of bergamot and orange (which we already know are incredible essential oils for happy mood). These oils were diffused throughout the day for two whole weeks in the homes of depressed patients. The results? Many were able to reduce their dose of antidepressants (19, 20).

Pro tip: Lemon is fabulous for cleaning, so I add this essential oil for depression to my homemade cleaner recipes. This way my house is toxin-free and uplifting to my mood.

  1. Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang is a tropical tree that produces gorgeous yellow flowers. The aroma of its essential oil is a mixture of sweet and spicy, which is perfect since this next essential oil for depression is both calming and uplifting. It can help bring positivity, release anger, and improve self-esteem (21).

Even simply inhaling ylang ylang straight from the bottle can help you in the moment when you’re feeling tired, low, hopeless, etc.

Ylang ylang can also ease the anxiety that often comes with depression by gently reducing the quickly beating heart and fast breathing – and even decrease your blood pressure (21, 22).

Pro tip: Since ylang ylang is often used in beauty products, you can add a drop in with your conditioner. That way you can smell the uplifting scent throughout the day.

  1. Rose

Rose is a flower we equate with love and luxury. Rose water was traditionally used to protect the heart and perfume the skin. There’s two big reason rose keeps coming back to matters of the heart: it’s a fabulous choice to uplift emotions, and it’s a great libido booster.

Studies have shown that rose can help alleviate postpartum depression (and anxiety) and some have even used rose to help deal with the emotional toil of labor.

Now sex. Many people with depression struggle to have any sexual desire – and antidepressants tend to make this issue worse. Rose oil can help you find your libido again.

Science has shown us this essential oil for depression can increase sex drive – especially for those who are on SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants.

  1. Lavender

Lavender is one of the most versatile essential oils available and one of the best essential oils for stress, so there’s no surprise it’s a top essential oil for depression as well. It also happens to be one of the more widely studied essential oils. Here’s a short roundup of information:

  • Lavender has been shown to reduce postpartum depression (as well as anxiety disorder) simply by diffusing it in the home (23)
  • Lavender has been shown to enhance the moods of those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) – this study showed the lavender was able to decrease their depression by 32.7%.
  • Lavender helps you sleep. In that same study, it greatly helped those with PTSD get a restful night. Now here’s the thing: some people with depression under-sleep and some over-sleep. Use the lavender while you’re sleeping if you struggle with insomnia/under-sleeping.

On top of all these incredible findings, lavender is widely known to be an effective stress-buster. It’s an all-around fantastic essential oil for anxiety and depression.

How to Combine Each Essential Oil for Depression

As I already mentioned, the best essential oil for depression is really a blend of essential oils. But where do you start? Here are 4 ideas to get you going:

Pre-Made Blends: doTERRA essential oils for depression

Looking for something easy? The high-quality brand doTERRA sells pre-made essential oils that can enhance mood, energize your body, and release negative emotions.

Here are some of my favorite blended doTERRA essential oils for depression:

  • Citrus bliss: This includes wild orange, lemon, and bergamot – as well as other fantastic uplifters. This is the perfect blend for energizing.
  • Cheer: These doTERRA essential oils for depression include wild orange, lemon – and other oils that help bring optimism and release more negative emotions.
  • Elevation: Lavender, ylang ylang, lemon, and other oils join together to help elevate your mood and energize your motivation for the day. The lavender makes it a fabulous essential oil for anxiety and depression.
  • Hope: Here you have bergamot, ylang, ylang and frankincense to refresh and uplift.

DoTERRA Depression Rollerball Recipe

(from Nesting Gypsy)

You can create your own rollerball recipe if you don’t want to buy directly from the company. Here’s a great doTERRA depression rollerball recipe you can create at home:

  • 5 drops Citrus Bliss blend from doTERRA
  • 5 drops Elevation blend from doTERRA
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • 3 drops peppermint
  • 3 drops patchouli

Complete this doTERRA depression rollerball recipe by filling up the container with a carrier oil – fractionated coconut is a popular choice.

Good Vibes Anti-Depression Diffuser Recipe

This cheerful blend of essential oils is our favorite for bringing on feelings of joy and “good vibes.”  I love to diffuse this in the office while I work. The ylang ylang adds such a nice twist and the citrus oils keep me alert, focused and feeling good all day.

  • 3 drops of Wild Orange
  • 3 drops of Bergamot
  • 2 drops of Ylang Ylang

Libido/Depression Diffuser Recipe

(from Dr. Eric Z)

If your sex drive needs a boost, simply add these oils to your bedroom diffuser:

  • 2 drops rose
  • 2 drops sandalwood
  • 2 drops jasmine
  • 2 drops ylang ylang

Be sure to turn it on a few minutes ahead of time, so the scents fill the room.

Build Your Own: DIY Essential Oil for Depression

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You can also experirement with your own blends. Try purchasing a few different singles I mentioned above that sound like something you’d enjoy, then create your own diffuser, bath, or massage oil recipe.

When it comes to bath time, I like to add drops of the essential oil for depression in with some bubble bath and then toss it into the tub as the water is running. Add Epsom salts to upgrade your experience.

When you’re making a blend that will go on your skin, just make sure you always use a carrier oil. I really like jojoba oil, but coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or even olive oil are great too.

Your Top Essential Oil for Depression

Here’s what I want this article to leave you with: hope that there are natural, safe, non-habit-forming ways to uplift your mood, energize your body and mind, and decrease the burden of too many negative emotions – these are some of the best essential oils for happy mood.

By now you should have an idea about what essential oil for depression you want to try. Remember that one isn’t necessarily better than the other – it’s just about what you like to smell, what makes you feel most supported, what makes you feel the most uplifted.

What’s your favorite essential oil for depression? Are you trying the doTERRA essential oils for depression or something else? Do you have a blend or recipe that you find especially effective? I’d love to hear about them, so share them with me and our community by leaving a comment below.



  1. Dr. Axe (2018) Find Hope Again: 13 Natural Remedies for Depression. Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/natural-remedies-depression/
  2. Harvard Health (2017). What Causes Depression? Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression
  3. Anxious or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help? Retrieved from: http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help
  4. Pallarito, Karen. (2017). 12 Types of Depression, and What You Need TO Know About Eac. Health. Retrieved from: http://www.health.com/depression/types-of-depression
  5. Anxious or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help? Retrieved from: http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help
  6. Harvard Health. (2014) What are the real risks of antidepressants? Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/what-are-the-real-risks-of-antidepressants
  7. Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry6(3), 104–111. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/
  8. Rankin, Lissa M.D. (2011) 11 Natural Treatments for Depression: An MD’s Tips for Skipping the Prozac. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/owning-pink/201103/11-natural-treatments-depression-md-s-tips-skipping-the-prozac
  9. 9.Goes, T., & Antunes, F. (2012). Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(8), 798–804.
  10. Jafarzadeh, M., Arman, S., & Pour, F. (2013). Effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oil on salivary cortisol and pulse rate in children during dental treatment: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Advanced Biomedical Research, 2, 1–10.
  11. Lehrner, J., Marwinski, G., & Lehr, S. (2005). Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology & Behavior, 86, 92–95.
  12. Costa, C., & Cury, T. (2013). Citrus aurantium L. essential oil exhibits anxiolytic-like activity mediated by 5-HT1A-receptors and reduces cholesterol after repeated oral treatment. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 42, 1–10.
  13. doTERRA. (2018) Wild Orange. Retrieved from:https://www.doterra.com/US/en/p/wild-orange-oil
  14. Healthline, (2016). Can Essential Oils Treat My Symptoms of Depression? Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/essential-oils-for-depression#takeaway
  15. Ni, C. H., Hou, W. H., Kao, C. C., Chang, M. L., Yu, L. F., Wu, C. C., & Chen, C. (2013). The anxiolytic effect of aromatherapy on patients awaiting ambulatory surgery: a randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.
  16. Kako, H., Fukumoto, S., Kobayashi, Y., & Yokogoshi, H. (2008). Effects of direct exposure of green odour components on dopamine release from rat brain striatal slices and PC12 cells. Brain Research Bulletin, 75, 706–712.
  17. Martins, D.F., Emer, A.A., Batisti, A.P. et al (2015). Inhalation of Cedrus atlantica essential oil alleviates pain behavior through activation of descending pain modulation pathways in a mouse model of postoperative pain. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, 30–38.
    18. Seol, G., Shim, H., Kim, P., & Moon, H. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of Salvia sclarea is explained by modulation of dopamine activities in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 130(1), 187–190.
  18. Komori, T., Fujiwara, R., & Tanida, M. (1995). Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation, 2, 174–180.
    20. Komori, T., Fujiwara, R., Tanida, M., & Nomura, J. (1995). Potential antidepressant effects of lemon odor in rats. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 5, 477–480.
  19. Hongratanaworakit, T., & Buchbauer, G. (2006). Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption. Phytotherapy Research, 20(9), 758-763.
  20. Medical News Today, (2017). Can Essential Oils Treat Depression? Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315481.php
  21. Conrad, P., & Adams, C. (2012). The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman–a pilot study. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 18(3), 164-168.
  22. Lillehei, A. S., Halcón, L., Gross, C. R., Savik, K., & Reis, R. (2016). Well-Being and Self-Assessment of Change: Secondary Analysis of an RCT That Demonstrated Benefit of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene in College Students with Sleep Problems. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 12(6), 427-435.
  23. Farnia, V., Shirzadifar, M., Shakeri, J., Rezaei, M., Bajoghli, H., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Brand, S. (2015). Rosa damascena oil improves SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in male patients suffering from major depressive disorders: results from a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, 625.

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