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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

Grab these essentials

Bergamot Oil
From $13.00

150 reviews
Cardamom Oil
From $18.00

82 reviews
Cedarwood Oil
From $9.00

121 reviews
Lime Oil
From $16.00

218 reviews
Mandarin (Green) Oil
From $10.00

110 reviews
Neroli Oil
From $110.00

59 reviews
Peppermint Oil
From $6.00

260 reviews
Vetiver Oil
From $17.00

136 reviews

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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

August 10, 2020 — Karen Williams