Using essential oils can be very successful as a complimentary treatment for depression. Which essential oils are best for depression depends on a number of factors. Listen to your body and pay attention to some hidden symptoms of underlying depression. Understanding your own depression requires you to understand yourself a bit better.
I have been struggling with depression for a few years now and compared to my husband’s depression it looks a lot different. Of course, we are very different personalities and very different temperaments but why have I now all of a sudden when my children are grown up fallen into depression?
I realized that I am in a different season now but I feel so out of my skin.
In my trying to make sense of this I keep reading about the different elements from traditional Chinese medicine – water, wood, fire, earth and metal. I was probably overthinking this because I just could not get my head around it.
Gabriel Mojay in his book Aromatherapy for healing the spirit explains it really well and for the first time I understood that it is basically the circle of life. It is just the cycles of humans and nature or different phases and stages or different life seasons. Every season brings with it different energies and have a different impact on us. Then also our temperaments and our personalities also have different energies.
I live in Australia and right now we are still having Winter. I don’t really like Winter- I get slow and cold and feel unmotivated in Winter. Yet there are some people who absolutely love Winter. I have a friend that get so energized in the Winter and is super creative in Winter. So the explanation for that according to Traditional Chinese Medicine is that they are dominated by the Water element which is the element for Winter.
So here is a short explanation of the different elements and how it affects our personalities and temperaments. I found the description of the different personalities quite accurate as described in Jean Haner’s book The wisdom of your Face. A fascinating book about Chinese face reading.
It is quite normal to recognize yourself in a couple of these. The sense organ associated with that element can give us an indication if there is an issue or energy blockage. For instance the wood element’s sense organ is the eyes. If you all of a sudden get dry itchy eyes or notice some more floaters than normal then you might want to pay more attention to that and get the energy flowing or the meridians flowing. Along your body you have different meridians that are almost like train tracks and if there is a blockage of energy it is almost like a broken down train on the tracks. We all know the chaos that a broken down train can cause in a busy city transport network.
The energy of the water element is dark and quiet
Season – Winter
Time of the day – night
Organ – kidneys
Sense organ – ears
Wise, determined, willful, independent, mysterious, dreamy, dramatic, slow to process issues, prudent, fearful.
The energy is upward, moving, active, pushing
Season – Spring
Time of the day – Morning
Organ – Liver
Sense organ – eyes
Optimistic, enthusiastic, confident, impulsive, curious, eager to learn, competitive, driven, disciplined, pushy, rebellious, organized, decisive, judgmental, frustrated
Time of the day – Noon
Season – Summer
Energy – peaking
Organ– Heart and small intestines
Sense organ– tongue
Joyful, exuberant, passionate, warm, dramatic, hyperactive, short attention span, enthusiastic, spontaneity, empathic, inspirational, self- centered, fickle, anxious, prone to panic attacks.
Time of the day – afternoon
Season – Late Summer / early Fall
Organ – Stomach, spleen, pancreas
Sense organ – mouth …taste
Caring, giving, helpful, diplomatic, sympathetic, indecisive, patient, friendly, thoughtful, tolerant, grounded, stuck, needy, self-pity, overprotective, overinvolved in others’ lives, supportive, kind, modest, dependent, focus on family and friends, worried
Time of the day – early evening
Season – late Fall
Organ – Lungs, skin, large intestines
Sense organ– nose
Sensitive, aware, idealistic, anxious, critical, inflexible, perfectionist, arrogant, proud, aloof, regal, gracious, charming, hypersensitive, self- conscious, suffering, aware, authoritative.
So you probably could read through this list and recognized yourself somewhere. Or you are like me and thinking that you are all over these and have issues with absolutely all your organs and that you are just messed up period.
So where to start ?
According to TCM the heart is the king of all the organs and the other organs will sacrifice their energy for the sake of the heart.
Everything is connected
So the organs are all connected and TCM explains their connections to each other like a parent-child relationship. Most mothers would completely understand this because when your children is not happy or experiencing sadness or bullying at school it affects you as a mom on an emotional level. That codependent relationship is a can of worms by themselves but that is a post for another day.
The heart is the mother of the stomach. When the stomach is functioning well, then the heart is well.
Surprisingly the liver is the mother of the heart. The importance of the liver has been highlighted recently but this is huge.
The liver is dealing with a lot – it has to metabolize alcohol, fats, hormones, proteins, carbohydrates, detoxify, produce bile and store vitamins and minerals. Our constant stress affects our liver which means that the liver cannot support the heart as it should.
Due to all this connectedness it is important then to not only take care of your cardiovascular system but also look after your stomach and your liver.
Different types of depression
Chinese medicine view depression as a disharmony caused by :
- 1) Not enough energy or blood – deficiency leaving you flat, lethargic, tired
- 2) Restricted or constrained flow of energy or blood – stagnation of blood and phlegm that can cause pain and spasms.
- 3) One or more of the organ systems are not functioning well
With the different organ systems or ‘elements’ explained above we can then use essential oils that are tailor made for you.
Which essential oils to use?
Water element depression or disharmony of kidney organ system
Good choice of essential oils:
For those who is really struggling with dread and apathy
For those who struggles with self-doubt and are at a point of giving up. These are normally individuals who will isolate and just worry when they are facing with responsibilities that they cannot avoid. Juniper oil will boost the will and strengthen the spirit.
Cypress trees can survive really harsh climates and still grow strong and tall. Therefor it is a good choice of oil for those depression sufferers that are in dire situations where they are controlled or manipulated by others. It is a good choice of oil for those that want to move forward psychological.
Ginger oil is great to improve circulation and a true warming oil. It therefor will warm the spirit and boost the morale and is helpful with low self-esteem. Also, a great oil to use if you are just in a place where you have all these responsibilities or assignments due and just need some initiative.
This calming oil is great for depression from overwork and to move some stagnant energy.
Depression of the Wood element or disharmony of the Liver organ system
Common in hardworking people who then all of a sudden loses the motivation or purpose.
Feelings of being oppressed and frustrated can be result of long term stress and stagnant liver energy.
Good choice of essential oils to use:
This refreshing oil can uplift the spirit and relax the nerves at the same time. Bergamot oil is a very good choice for people struggling with a lot of bottled up feelings and frustrations.
Sweet orange oil
Oranges will often remind people of their carefree childhood. Sweet orange oil is great to rekindle that playfulness of the inner child.
For emotional support and awareness. Often these goal -focused and driven individuals cut themselves off from their emotions and just soldier on.
Comforting to the mind. Great for nervous people who keep themselves busy as a coping mechanism in order to avoid the pain and hurt.
Both Roman chamomile and German chamomile is very effective for individuals who often come across very irritable and frustrated with themselves and others.
Liver disharmony often results in angry frustration. If you get angry at the smallest thing it is time to question whether your liver might be working too hard and the energy might be stagnant.
Workaholics often buries their hurt in their work. Putting a tight band aid over the wound and try to forget about it. Unfortunately that wound just never heals, instead it can really fester. Yarrow oil is great for these individuals and people who really struggle with a sense of victimization. Often there is a lot of negativity and the glass is always half empty.
The type of depression that stems from an intolerance of oneself and feeling very frustrated with yourself. A low self-esteem and self-condemnation and a lot of negative self-talk and self-doubt is at the order of the day. Spikenard oil can help with having some kindness for yourself and some self-compassion.
Depression of the Fire element or disharmony of the heart organ system
The heart organ system includes the small intestines. Overall there is an imbalance of joy and love which is the root emotions of the heart.
Often a lack of enthusiasm and interest. Individuals often feel uninspired to do anything. Which is often very odd because these fire element individuals are normally very warm and emotional and then when they get depressed often is cold and agitated or very sensitive. Sometimes depression can stem from rejection and disappointment in relationships which can cause a lot of emotional insecurity and sadness.
Good choice of essential oils to use:
This anti-depressant oil can tonify and relax the energy of the heart. Jasmine oil has an uplifting effect on an emotional level. Very helpful to rekindle some warmth for those struggling with depression who has grown cold and hostile.
Depression and anxiety can make you feel really flat and hopeless. Ylang-ylang oil can help those who need some emotional excitement.
Rose oil can restore some emotional security. Highly sensitive individuals are often also romantic idealist but then get very hurt by the pain and hurt of disappointment in relationships.
Often these fire people are always fun and the life of the party. So when depression hits or the disharmony occurs they struggle to show this and be vulnerable but rather suffer in silence without any one knowing what is really going on. Dismissing their own sadness and depression can be quite detrimental and make them feel really overwhelm and oppressed.
Melissa oil can be a great oil to revive the heart and restore the heart.
For those who have lost their joy due to mental strain and stress.
Coriander seed oil
This warming oil is great for the worriers and over thinkers. For those who are just feeling emotional barren with nothing left in the tank. Coriander seed oil comforts the intellect and uplifts the mind.
Depression of the Earth element of disharmony of the Stomach organ system
This is a gut-brain connection because disharmony of the stomach organ system also results in a disharmony of the intellect. Your thinking and reasoning is disrupted. Overthinking, worrying and a sense of confusion is often happening for the Earth people or when the energy in the stomach organ system is not working as it should. Often these people neglect themselves and worry more about others but they do crave emotional support which often then leads to self-pity and frustration.
Good choice of essential oils to use:
This is a great oil to reconnect with yourself and to show yourself some self-love and self-nurturing.
For those who have experience loss or sadness due to loss. That can be anything from a pet, a job or a loved one. Marjoram oil is great to use if you have trouble keeping your own company. The gloom of isolation can be very overwhelming for some.
Just like the fruit, Lemon oil is very refreshing and uplifting for the spirit. It can clear a foggy mind and restore some light heartedness again.
Frankincense and Myrrh
Both of these oil can help to clarify the mind. It is helpful for the over thinkers and the worriers. For those dealing with grief and loss this would be a good oil mix to use.
For depression of the Metal element of disharmony of the lung organ system
The root emotion of the lung organ system is grief. For many people loss was the catalyst that resulted in them suffering from depression in the first place.
The lungs are crucial for vitality of body and mind. The lungs are all about letting in the new energy and letting go of the old energy. Often emotions such as regret, remorse or a lingering sense of loss can cause the sadness or grief to get stuck in the lungs. Stagnation of the energy causes phlegm which can really impair the lung function.
Dealing with the unresolved grief is really important and I want to stress that before you reach for the essential oil bottle, you have to reach out to someone. Preferably a counselor but a close safe friend will help as well.
Good choice of essential oils to use:
For those that are feeling stuck and unable to move forward. Individuals who feel oppressed by their circumstances. Cypress oil is fantastic for circulation and to comfort the spirit.
This oil not only opens the chest and bronchial airways but also encourages a sense of awareness. It is quite an invigorating oil to use to be able to move forward.
It has the ability to relax and to encourage the nervous system. It is a great oil of choice for depression form chronic tension and nervous strain. Very helpful for melancholy and can help to lift the spirit and strengthen the flow of energy.
Getting rid of stuck phlegm and to combat negative thoughts. This is a very helpful oil to use to be able to let go.
Tea tree oil
This is a great oil for those who just feel so weak from sadness. This refreshing oil has many helpful properties to strengthen you physically and mentally.
Essential oil safety guidelines:
Do not take essential oils internally or apply essential oils undiluted topically. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil.
Follow Dilution recommendations on the Essential oil Dilution chart.
Pregnant women have to consult with a qualified aromatherapist and or midwife and doctor before using essential oils, especially topically.
If you have liver damage, cancer, suffers from epilepsy or other medical problems and take medicine on a regular basis then you have to use essential oils under the guidance of a trained aromatherapist.
Before using essential oils on children you should consult with a qualified aromatherapist.
Check whether the essential oil of your choice is safe to use around your pets. Here is a list of essential oils safety for dogs.
Take care of you so that you can take care of others