Essential Oils for Anxiety, Depression & Attention Disorders

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, if you suffer from chronic anxiety, feelings of despair or attention disorders, see a medical doctor. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases.

Anxiety, depression and attention disorders are on the rise. The causes may be two-fold, first simply because we live in a culture saturated with unimportant things. We have thousands of choices we can make every day, from the foods we eat to products for our home and health. Marketing campaigns reach for our hearts, showing that we will be happy if we just purchase their goods and services. We can have instant gratification: on-demand movies, fast food and drugs to take away our symptoms in an hour. These are solutions targeted at making us content for the moment, entertainment to keep us occupied for seconds.  It’s easy to fall into habits that can be harmful to us if we only have a short term fix in mind – whether in quick meals to fit our schedule or short cuts in parenting to pacify our children.  Now, I’m not being judgemental, in fact I’ve been there: stressed out in hurried situations, I’ve  taken the quick fix knowing there was a better way.  Short term our bodies and minds can adapt, but habitually bad habits can lead to a host of problems including weight gain, anxiety and depression.   Children can also fall victim to unhealthy habits, simply due to the affects of busy schedules many families lead – fast foods, artificial ingredients, videos for entertainment and being bombarded with more information and situations than they can process all combine to create situations impacting mental and physical health.

I believe a second cause of the increase in these health issues is the vast amount of chemicals we are exposed to every day. Some have even said today we are exposed to more chemicals in a day than people 100 years ago were exposed to in a lifetime. This does not even include chemicals we choose to subject ourselves to: over the counter & prescription drugs, plastics, untested cosmetic ingredients, perfumes and artificial fragrance. All of these chemicals can wreak havoc on our bodies and may cause hormonal imbalance which also may contribute to anxiety, depression and attention disorders.

Here’s some research showing how essential oils can support healthy brain function:

Migiwa Komiyaa, Takashi Takeuchi Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behavioural Brain Research Volume 172, Issue 2, 25 September 2006, Pages 240–249

Giacinto Bagettaa.  Luigi Antonio Morronea, Laura Rombolàa, Diana Amanteaa, Rossella Russoa, Laura Berliocchib, Shinobu Sakuradac, Tsukasa Sakuradad, Domenicantonio Rotirotib, Maria Tiziana Corasaniti. Neuropharmacology of the essential oil of bergamot.Fitoterapia Volume 81, Issue 6, September 2010, Pages 453–461.

Eun Cho1 andYoung-Sook Kang1,2. Changes in 5-hydroxytryptamine and Cortisol Plasma Levels in Menopausal Women After Inhalation of Clary Sage Oil†Kyung-Bok Lee1,2,  Phytotherapy Research Volume 28, Issue 11, pages 1599–1605, November 2014.

Summary:This study found that simply inhaling Clary Sage essential oil lowered Cortisol levels significantly, especially for participants in a depression tendency group leading researchers to conclude Clary Sage has an anti-depressant effect.

Margaret Louis, RN, PhD. et al. Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being. AM J HOSP PALLIAT CARE November/December 2002 vol. 19 no. 6 381-386.

N.T.J. Tildesleya, D.O. Kennedya, E.K. Perryb, C.G. Ballardc, K.A. Wesnesa, d, A.B. Scholeya.Positive modulation of mood and cognitive performance following administration of acute doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil to healthy young volunteers.Physiology & Behavior. Volume 83, Issue 5, 17 January 2005, Pages 699–709.


Our children’s bodies and ours are being bombarded with chemicals, many of them we consciously are burning and “plugging in” to our homes, poisoning our air. We are chemical beings and all these fragranced products are causing chemical reactions in our bodies, our brains – the evidence is mounting that these chemicals are linked to anxiety, depression and attention disorders to name only a few. Over the counter and prescription drugs are even worse, with these and other health issues listed as potential side effects. I’m actually surprised at how many people ask if essential oils will interact with the drugs they are taking, yet don’t give a thought to using a home cleansing wipe labeled “harmful to humans and domestic animals” or consider how common household products and cosmetics are interfering with their prescriptions. Perfumes and artificial fragrance are known to disrupt hormones and the endocrine system making us more vulnerable to symptoms of anxiety, depression and attention disorders.   Cleaning up your environment is easier than you think and may have long acting effects on your brain health, and the potential to avoid  prescription drugs and their side effects.

If you are truly looking for help with issues like anxiety, depression or attention disorders, you seriously have to consider cleaning up your environment, diet and personal care products first. Essential oils may offer some promise for dealing with these but they cannot compensate for a lack of common sense and poor choices.  Antidepressants are some of the most widely prescribed drugs, with usage doubling in just one decade: 1996-2005.  Some studies have even shown that their effects may be questionable.  Dr. Mercola offers some insight into this research and alternatives to prescription drugs even suggesting that placebos have as great an impact on improving your mood .   One study indicated that 1 in 5 people in the past year were diagnosed with a mental illness, most in the age group of 18-25 year olds.  I could have been one of those statistics, as I was medicated in my late teens for depression, a period of time when I was not making good choices in my daily routine.   Fast forward 20 years, and now I’m more diligent about what my kids are eating and exposed to.  I have almost 52 years of collective observation in my kid’s ages combined and on many occasions have seen their behavior dramatically change simply by the foods they have eaten, including sugar and processed foods.  I’m also very careful about avoiding all the chemicals  I can in our home, and use mainly Therapeutic Grade essential oils to keep our bodies in balance and handle non-emergency situations in a natural way.  Keeping this in mind, essential oils may be a great side-effect free option to try before going on medications.  Here are some essential oils that support brain health, help with concentration and mental clarity, and can assist the body in dealing with stress:

Lavender essential oil helps balance the body, may help with insomnia and is calming. Simply smelling something pleasant can have a positive effect on our psyche. Make sure you are using only a pure, food grade lavender essential oil. I met someone the other day who had a bad experience with lavender. After applying a drop to her pillow, she developed a horrible headache. If an essential oils is altered or diluted with any chemical, one can never really know what side effects may occur from fillers. It is always best to use essential oils from a trusted source that verifies the ingredients of their products. My essential oils come from a company that grows many of the plants they distill and package because I know they have the highest quality control standards in the industry.

Frankincense essential oil may be helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression. I apply Frankincense to my face every day, it’s excellent and nourishing to the skin plus it gives a boost to my psyche. Frankincense can be diffused to improve concentration and mental clarity. Because of this quality, it would be a great choice for using when a student needs to get homework done. This is an excellent oil to use for anxiety – when you have a lot of things going on and you don’t know where to begin. This oil is clearly evidence of divine creation – one breath in and your mind is clear and focused for the most important task at hand.

Peppermint oil is the first choice for mental clarity for attention disorders. Simply applying the oil to the temples can improve concentration and focus. Diffusing peppermint oil when you are studying can help improve memory retention. Peppermint may also be useful in treating headaches brought on by anxiety or depression.

Vetiver essential oil is also another powerful essential oil that can help with brain health.  Vetiver is a grass, steam distilled from the roots of the plant.  It is psychologically grounding, calming and stabilizing.  Vetiver does have a strong aroma that most either like or dislike.  It can be effective when applied to the soles of the feet and then the aroma is less noticeable.

Essential oils have the potential to even out moods, balance our emotions and help improve our mental clarity. But first, it is important to clear your environment and personal exposure to man-made chemicals that may be contributing to these issues. If you are on a lot of medications, have intelligent conversations with your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects. There are many natural, drug free solutions to anxiety, depression and attention disorders for those willing to do some research and tune into themselves to figure what might be triggering these symptoms in the first place.  For more information on the specific usages of essential oils, consult an Essential Oil Desk Reference or your holistic practitioner.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

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9 Responses to Essential Oils for Anxiety, Depression & Attention Disorders

  1. Elizabeth August 1, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    I would like to have an essential oil recipe for depression

  2. Patricia Karmer October 29, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    I love essential oils and use them in my practice. It’s amazing how powerful they are. Another great tip for those who are feeling overwhelmed/depressed is to put a drop or two in the center of one of your palms. Rub your hands together and then cup them over your nose, breathing in slowly and deeply. Really helps!

  3. Susan P October 29, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Thanks for the tip, Patricia! Yes, it’s amazing how powerful a pure, chemical-free aroma can be in lifting our spirits!

  4. Christine December 19, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Hello I have a daycare toddler she is 1an all she does is cry from the time she gets to daycare till she gets picked up but her parents say she doesn’t do this at home an when she is at daycare I’m the only one she wants she cries when I leave Tue room or if I’m teaching one of my other kids what kind oils Will help her her mom said she wants everything to be calm for us an her at daycare

  5. Susan P December 21, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Hi Christine,
    It can be stressful for everyone when a toddler is cranky. Essential oils like Lavender, Tangerine and other citrus oils are uplifting and help cheer up those who smell them. Any of these would be excellent for diffusing in the daycare, it would be nice for the other children and workers as well to freshen odors and even fight bacteria.

  6. Holly August 23, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Can you mix the different oils, to try and get the benefits of all of them. Or…is it beSt to only use one oil at a time?

  7. Erin May 23, 2017 at 7:10 am #

    I just retweeted this and shared to my facebook group with credit given! I just started using oils a few years ago & now my entire family uses them. I remember being a skeptic that they could make a difference and now I’m an oily addict! Ha! Great and very well written article Susan! Kudos! (Erin) God bless!

  8. Susan P May 25, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Erin! I appreciate the share and kind comments. Cheers!


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