Our sense of smell is very powerful — physically and psychologically. A certain kitchen scent may evoke a feeling of comfort if it reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen. The scent of lilacs welcomes the spring season and can be energizing. A sandalwood candle enhances a romantic evening.
Imagine concentrating these aromas in a way that you could manipulate and alter your mood whenever you wanted. Whether you are feeling a bit down or suffering from severe clinical depression, aromatherapy may help lift your mood and improve the quality of your life.
Though we certainly have a mental association with different scents, there are physiological reasons for the emotional responses to aromatherapy. For instance, lavender evokes calmness because it encourages the brain to release serotonin.
In fact, a study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that, “aromatherapy can be used as a complementary and alternative therapy for patients with depression and secondary depressive symptoms arising from various types of chronic medical conditions.”1
Pure essential oils can be found in health stores and then diffused throughout your home using a simmer pot, diffuser or lamp. You can use a few drops in your bath water or in an unscented body lotion or shampoo to make your bath an even more relaxing, healing experience. The essential oils are highly concentrated, so never apply them directly to your skin without diluting them in water, oil, lotion, conditioner or shampoo.
One way to improve the effectiveness of aromatherapy is to use this healing therapy in conjunction with massage. A licensed massage therapist can use scented massage oils to further the benefits of massage. Massage in and of itself is a highly effective way to improve your mood and relieve depression symptoms. Combined with aromatherapy, it is even more effective.
Yim VWC, Ng AKY, Tsang HWH, et al. A Review on the Effects of Aromatherapy for Patients with Depressive Symptoms 2009;15(2):187-195.