Aromatherapy and mental health

field of lavender

There are various sources that can be found online that talk about the mental health benefits of aromatherapy with certain essential oils.  I started using aromatherapy daily almost a year ago.  Mostly I use a diffuser but I also have a few topical roll-ons.  It’s hard to say if there’s a benefit aside from the very real benefit of a regular practice of engaging in self-care, but if nothing else it smells really nice.

An article by Dr. Axe lists a top 4 of essential oils for depression:

  • Bergamot: calming, works well in combination with lavender
  • Lavender: useful for stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  • Chamomile: soothing, calming
  • Ylang ylang: boosts mood, mild sedative

Other essential oils that may be helpful are rose, geranium, clary sage, jasmine, sandalwood, sweet marjoram, frankincense, wild orange, lemon, patchouli, grapefruit, and neroli.

I get most of my essential oil blends from Saje Natural Wellness.  I specifically pick blends that contain mental health-boosting oils.  My favourites are Embrace (which includes ylang ylang, patchouli, and geranium, among others), Stress Release (with lavender, clary sage, geranium, and roman chamomile), Tranquility (with lavender, ylang ylang, and roman chamomile), and Unwind (with lavender, bergamot, and geranium).

I subscribe to a sort of the more the merrier holistic approach to mental health.  My treatment-resistant depression doesn’t seem to be inclined to budge, so I throw at it whatever I can come up with in the hope that any little bit helps.  And if what I’m throwing at it happens to smell nice, so much the better, meaning I will keep taking care of myself with aromatherapy.


Visit the Mental Health @ Home Store to find my books Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple, a mini-ebook collection focused on therapy, and plenty of free downloadable resources.

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34 thoughts on “Aromatherapy and mental health

  1. Jeanne says:

    Aromatherapy is the best! The smell of rain, the ocean, cut grass. Orange to lift my spirits. Lavender to calm me down. Perhaps sandalwood or geranium, grapefruit so fresh mixed with vanilla. 😇🕊🎶🎶

  2. howikilledbetty says:

    That’s such a good idea … I’m throwing everything at my anxiety and depression too and yet aromatherapy simply hadn’t crossed my mind. Thanks for the inspiration! Katie 🌼🌼

  3. Revenge of Eve says:

    I use lavender quite often. We diffuse in my house also. My mother has done quite a bit of research on the oils and we use them frequently.

  4. Off Your Chest blog says:

    What a lovely post – I always unwind with an oil diffuser full of lavender or bergamot – it calms me down straight away and smells absolutely amazing!

    If you ever want to contribute a post on holistic approaches to managing mental health, we’d love to invite you to submit something to our site – we appreciate a wide range of techniques that may be completely foreign to those without any experience.

    All the best, and thanks for the great read!

    Off Your Chest blog

  5. La Quemada says:

    I agree–treatment resistant depression is a BITCH, but it’s always a good idea to find ways to be kind to yourself. Often when my depression is the worst, I can’t bring myself to do these things anymore, but when I feel a little better, maybe only mildly depressed, then I think self-care is very helpful. Thanks for sharing your recommendations.

    • ashleyleia says:

      One of the things I like about aromatherapy is that it doesn’t take any effort, which makes it easier to stick for self-care with when the depression is really bad.

  6. Meg says:

    I have a very weak sense of smell. (I don’t know why, but my vision is also horrible, and I’ve been half-deaf since birth.) But I still love the concept of alternative treatments!!

    • ashleyleia says:

      In theory the essential oil would still be getting absorbed into your body and so could still be beneficial even though it’s not as pleasant an experience. Or it could all be mumbo-jumbo – who really knows!

  7. Marie Abanga says:

    Wow Ashley, I once knew some guy in Arusha Tanzania who had this big case of those oils, and treated me to a massage and bath twice with some. Do I need to add I fell head over nuts with him? Yet to find some here but love the lavender in anything home thing I can get like the air fresher and etc

  8. lavenderandlevity says:

    I can’t remember for the life of me to stock any essential oils when I run out, but I generally feel the same way. The placebo effect is statistically real, so why not enjoy a nice smelling placebo effect if you can get one?

  9. BlissfullyGrateful says:

    This post just hit the spot as I have finally received my aroma diffuser today! So stoked about it and can’t wait to use it. Will definitely take into account the essential oils you mentioned x thanks so much!

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