Posted by Dana Hinders on February 3, 2012
Aromatherapy refers to the use of essential oils for their therapeutic benefits. Essential oils that are derived from plants have highly concentrated fragrances that can trigger specific emotional responses in the brain. Some oils boost energy, while others help reduce anxiety. Specific combinations of essential oils are often used as alternative medical treatments for depression, sometimes in conjunction with therapies such as acupuncture or yoga.
Can aromatherapy replace the use of antidepressants? For severe depression, this seems highly unlikely. However, women of childbearing age who are looking for a treatment for mild depression that does not increase the risk of cardiac defects, limb defects, and neural tube defects when taken during pregnancy may find aromatherapy to be a helpful tool. Aromatherapy can also be beneficial for women who have found medications such as Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft to cause weight gain, loss of sexual desire, or other bothersome personal side effects.
There are several different combinations of essential oils that are recommended for treating depression. For example, AromaWeb suggests using 1 drop rose, 3 drops sandalwood, and 1 drop orange or 1 drop lavender, 1 drop ylang ylang, and 3 drops grapefruit as a therapeutic treatment. Essential oil blends can be used in a diffuser, as bath oils, as massage oils, or as air fresheners. If essential oils are used on the skin, however, they must be properly diluted in order to avoid causing an allergic reaction.
If you are interested in learning more about how aromatherapy can be used as an alternative to antidepressants, it is best to make an appointment with a qualified aromatherapist. General information about aromatherapy is widely available online, but meeting a trained professional can help you develop a plan that best addresses your specific symptoms. If you are currently pregnant, a professional can also provide advice on how to safely practice aromatherapy during pregnancy.