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Aromatherapy for depression, especially menopause depression: does it really work? Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils from plants for healing, is one of many possible natural treatments for depression.
According to Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D., author of Advanced Aromatherapy, the use of essential oils is most effective with infections. It's second best area of effectiveness is with the nervous and endocrine systems, and the psyche. Since menopause depression can be caused by hormone imbalance as well as nervous system issues, it seems aromatherapy for depression would be worth trying.
Menopause depression can happen for several reasons. One reason is hormone imbalance. This can happen when estrogen and progesterone decline during perimenopause and other reproductive hormones increase. If you have been under long-term stress, this can cause depression. Low thyroid, a common occurrence for middle-aged women, can contribute to depression.
If you have escaped the physiological reasons for depression during menopause, there are plenty of sociological factors that can contribute to menopause depression, such as the declining status and invisibility of older women in Western society, concerns about aging and changing roles, and more. For more about the definition of depression and why it happens during menopause, see Depression and Menopause
There are many natural treatments for menopause depression. Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils, is a particularly attractive remedy. It's very pleasing to smell fragrances you like, although in some cases you don't need to smell the oil; it does it's job by penetrating into your tissues and organs. DO NOT ingest essential oils unless you have been trained by an expert in how to use them. Most oils are used externally, not internally.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils made from plants for various health treatments. Aromatherapy has been used for many years and can be very effective, especially for emotional support. There are several different ways to use essential oils, including topically, in compresses, through inhalation, and in baths. There is nothing quite like getting a massage from someone using essential oils.
Essential oils can also work through topical application and tissue penetration. This would be an excellent way to use aromatherapy for depression. Getting a massage is a way to nurture yourself, something women usually don't do nearly enough of. Adding essential oils to that massage intensifies the nurturing many times over.
Oils that can help lift a depressed mood include Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Lavender, Mandarin, Melissa, Neroli and Ylang Ylang.
Bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp. Bergamia) is calming and helps you sleep. Since menopause insomnia can contribute to menopause depression, this could help with both issues. Bergamot is phototoxic and should not be used topically. You can use it in a diffuser, or put some drops on a cotton ball for inhalation or use in your dryer or vacuum.
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is very calming and soothing to your nerves. It can be applied topically or through the methods mentioned under bergamot, above.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) can be used for depression and is safe for topical application.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) Lavender is well known for its calming and soothing effects. I used to rub a couple of drops on my son's wrist when he was younger to help him calm down and get to sleep. It also relieves tension and pain.
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) Mandarin can help with anxiety and stress. It can be phototoxic if applied to the skin.
Melissa (Melissa officinalis). Common name is lemon balm. It grows like a weed where I live in the Northern California foothills. This plant is very effective for relieving depression. It is sedating but gentle. It can be applied topically or inhaled.
Neroli – Bitter Orange Flowers (Citrus aurantium) Neroli helps reduce anxiety, and can be used topically as well as inhaled.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) is very relaxing and has a heavenly scent. Ylang Ylang grows in Asia and has a star-shaped yellow flower.
Be sure to use the highest quality oils you can afford. Low quality oils will not get the job done. And if you buy an “aromatherapy candle” at the drugstore, do not expect the same benefits that you would derive from actually buying the essential oils themselves. If you follow this advice, you will find that using essential oils can be fun and nurturing.
There are many different ways to approach depression with natural treatments. Always start with diet and nutrition – this is your foundation for health. In addition to diet, herbs, music, yoga, flower essences, acupuncture, and exercise.
Other pages related to depression and menopause
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