Aromatics Wellness Blog

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder

For some, the shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures of the fall and winter seasons can cause feelings of depression and general malaise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Besides frequently feeling melancholy, symptoms of SAD can include: a depressed immune system, lethargy and low energy, sleeping problems, loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy, changes in appetite, weight gain, agitation, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last from the beginning of the fall season all the way to spring, greatly affecting the day-to-day lives of those who suffer from it. Fortunately, we have the power of essential oils and you can, too! Essential oils can help ease the affects of SAD, giving us the uplifting, energizing, and calming energy that our body, mind, and spirit needs during the long winter months. Read on for our list of 13 essential oils for seasonal affective disorder.

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

During the darker months of winter our bodies experience several physiological changes. The reduced sunlight can disrupt the body’s biological clock, also known as circadian rhythm. Often, we experience a decrease in serotonin levels, the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood and feelings of wellbeing. Additionally, since our bodies naturally produce melatonin when it is dark, the increase in darkness during times when we can’t go to sleep can play havoc with the natural balance of our systems, as well. Studies have found that it is likely a combination of all of these things that factor into what causes seasonal affective disorder. So how does one combat these natural changes? Many of those that experience SAD use light therapy, vitamin D supplements, and/or antidepressants to help them through the winter months. However, aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular, and it can have remarkable antidepressant and therapeutic effects. We love using essential oils for seasonal affective disorder! Aromas deeply affect our brain’s ability to think and feel. They can energize us or take us to a more quiet, restful place. Much has been written on this topic and there is no denying that surrounding ourselves with the aromas of essential oils can help lift us up when we are feeling down and help our bodies regain the balance that we need, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Best Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

In her book, Awaken to Healing Fragrance, Elizabeth Jones references a study that shows the antidepressant benefits of citrus oils. She states that the results support the concept that human depression is based on homeostatic dysregulation and citrus oils improve the homeostatic balance better than antidepressant drugs. As one explores deeper into the world of aromatherapy, it won’t take long to discover similar conclusions being made more and more in the scientific community regarding essential oils and their remarkable ability to combat depression. So which are the best essential oils for seasonal affective disorder?

Here are 13 of our favorites:

13 essential oils for seasonal affective disorder bergamot oil

1. Bergamot Oil

Citrus bergamia Bergamot oil is always at the top of our list when looking to relax, restore, and calm. This beautiful oil is also incredibly uplifting and so helpful for dealing with depression, anxiety, and tension. Bergamot is an excellent oil for helping with sleep issues and insomnia and is one of our favorite essential oils for seasonal affective disorder.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder cardamom oil

2. Cardamom Oil

Elettaria cardamomum Cardamom oil is perfect for helping lift the spirits during those times when one is feeling down. It can also help fortify the immune system. Cardamom invites mental clarity and balance.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder cedarwood oil

3. Cedarwood Oil

Juniperus virginiana Cedarwood oil boosts emotional strength and stability, helping to encourage the ability to hold steady and persevere. We often turn to cedarwood for support during difficult times or when dealing with depression or anxiety.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder jasmine absolute oil

4. Jasmine Absolute Oil

Jasminum grandiflorum Jasmine absolute oil is prized for its antidepressant properties. It stimulates and strengthens the spirit, increases self-confidence, and promotes feelings of optimism. Jasmine is one of the best oils for relieving depression and diminishing fears.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder lime oil

5. Lime Oil

Citrus aurantifolia Lime oil brings sunshine and light to the mind, body, and spirit. It refreshes and uplifts, making it a gorgeous choice for fighting depression as well as fatigue.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder mandarin green oil

6. Mandarin (Green) Oil

Citrus reticulata Mandarin (green) oil is very energizing and can help provide courage as well as get stagnant, blocked energy circulating again. Mandarin also calms emotional distress and is immensely supportive when working through depression or anxiety.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder neroli oil

7. Neroli Oil

Citrus aurantium var. Amara Neroli oil is one of our favorites to use when wanting to usher in peace and balance to the mind, body, and spirit. It provides strong emotional support and is incredibly calming and soothing. Neroli oil can provide support during times of depression or anxiety.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder norway pine oil

8. Norway Pine Oil

Pinus resinosa Norway pine oil strengthens and rejuvenates. It can help promote a stronger self image and identity. Norway pine provides excellent support to the immune system and can help promote healthy adrenal function. This oil is so helpful for staying healthy during times of stress, transition, or depression.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder orange sweet oil

9. Orange (Sweet) Oil

Citrus sinensis Orange (sweet) oil brings brightness and light wherever it goes. It is so uplifting and can help provide courage and positivity. This lovely oil is so bright and sunny, it fills any space with happiness.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder patchouli oil

10. Patchouli Oil

Pogostemon cablin Patchouli oil is incredibly balancing and calming to the mind, body, and spirit. It is beautifully uplifting and can help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. Patchouli is an exquisite oil to use during times of depression.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder peppermint oil

11. Peppermint Oil

Mentha x piperita Peppermint oil helps stimulate and awaken the mind. It is uplifting and refreshing and is useful for combating fatigue and encouraging focus.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder Rose Absolute Oil

12. Rose Absolute Oil

Rosa damascena Rose absolute oil is emotionally uplifting and healing, especially to the heart. It also makes an effective tonic for the nervous system. Rose absolute oil is known to have sedative properties and is a beautiful choice for helping to ease shock, grief, and depression.

13 Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder vetiver oil

13. Vetiver Oil

Vetiveria zizanoides Vetiver oil grounds and protects. It can help us connect to the positive energy around us and is both calming and restorative. Vetiver can also help reduce insomnia, boost the immune system, and provide gentle sedation and support to the nervous system.

How to Use Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Using essential oils to help alleviate SAD is easy and fun. Diffusing your favorite oils in a diffuser is an excellent way to fill a space with mood-boosting oils to help you get through times of depression. You can also add your oils to a personal inhaler so you can take them with you wherever you go. An aromatic bath before bedtime can greatly enhance sleep as well as provide a psychologically and energetically rejuvenating experience. Linen sprays, room sprays, moisturizing lotions, and body butters are just a few more examples. New to essential oils? For more information on dilution recommendations, how many drops to use in a diffuser or inhaler, and that sort of thing, check out our blog: Essential Oils 101 – A Beginner’s Guide. Whether you need to uplift and usher in brightness or energize and motivate yourself during the long winter months, essential oils can help. If you have a favorite way to use essential oils to combat SAD, let us know in the comments below!

Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder Recipes

Here are a few of our favorite recipes to blend when looking to relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

1. Diffuser Blend for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Diffuser Blend for Seasonal Affective Disorder Recipe

This blend is so helpful for times when you need extra emotional support, especially during the winter months when seasonal affective disorder can take its toll. These oils work together to balance and uplift emotions, usher in brightness and light, heighten the senses, and promote courage and clarity. This truly is a beautiful blend! Ingredients:

  1. Blend the essential oils in the 5ml amber glass bottle w/orifice reducer and use as a stock blend.
  2. Add 10-15 drops of the stock blend to a diffuser.
  3. Use in your home or office throughout the day.

2. Energize Blend for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Energize Blend for Seasonal Affective Disorder

This beautifully woodsy blend is so helpful for when you need that extra energizing boost, especially during the winter months when seasonal affective disorder can take its toll. Formulated with essential oils for seasonal affective disorder, these oils are stimulating and rejuvenating. They usher in clarity and strength, providing much-needed energy to mind, body, and spirit. Ingredients:

  1. Add 1 oz. of jojoba oil (or another carrier of choice) to an empty 1 oz. amber glass bottle w/coned cap.
  2. Drop the essential oils into the jojoba oil.
  3. Cap the bottle and roll gently to blend the oils into the jojoba.
  4. Apply to the back of your neck, the insides of your wrists, and on your temples. Keep beside your bed and take deep breaths in the morning when you don’t feel like getting out of bed.
  5. Apply throughout the day for a rejuvenating energy boost.
Article Sources:
  • Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
  • Davis P. Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition C.W. Daniel Company Limited, England, 1999
  • Keville, K. Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, The Crossing press, USA, 1995
  • Mojay G. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, Henry Holt and Company Inc., England, 1996
  • Price S. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 2nd edition, Churchill Livingstone, 1999
  • Schnaubelt K. Advanced Aromatherapy, The Science of Essential Oil Therapy, Healing Arts Press, USA, 1998
  • Tisserand R. The Art of Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, USA, 1977
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