28 February 2018

Essential Oils for Anxiety

I haven't talked about it much here, but I suffer from anxiety.  I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety and OCD several years ago, and I wouldn't doubt that I could get diagnosed with social anxiety as well.  

I tried different treatments, and I'll get to that in a minute, but I want to look for natural treatments.  My son, 16, also has anxiety.  Right now, he doesn't want to take a prescription, and I respect that.  Thus led to my search for the best essential oils for anxiety.


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I've had anxiety forever.  I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't have anxiety.  I vividly remember times in my childhood that my anxiety negatively affected my day to day life.  Of course, I had no idea what anxiety was, but I remember the fear and the feeling.

When I was in college, my anxiety was taking control of my life.  I was having problems getting out of my dorm room to go to classes.  I couldn't talk to other students or my professors.  

My doctor put me on a medication for anxiety.  It did help, but I had a lot of side effects.  So I tried a few more, and I finally found one that worked.

I took that medication until I graduated.  Then I got married, had kids, and life was good.  But my anxiety was so severe that I couldn't leave my kids.  I didn't leave my middle son with anyone, not even his father, until he was a few years old.  I didn't even know he could crawl and walk because I literally never put him down.

So I was back at the doctor for help.  I was on anti-anxiety medications once again.  This time, they turned me into a zombie.  I would take them at 10 p.m. and sleep all night.  Then I would get up with the kids and feed them, go back to sleep, wake up to feed them lunch, and go back to sleep.  Finally, I'd get up around 6 p.m. and feel great until 10 p.m. when it would start again.  

This went on for several months.

If I didn't take the medication, my heart raced and I would shake from the anxiety.  

I couldn't do this anymore.  I went back to my doctor and told him that I could not take any more medications.  He suggested cognitive behavioral therapy.  Basically, this therapy helps you identify negative thoughts and behaviors and correct them.  I got coping strategies to help me reduce my anxiety.  

I now have what I call high functioning anxiety.  I can pass as "normal" in society, but it's still there.  When I catch myself getting anxious, I have strategies that I can use to remain calm.  For me, that was the missing puzzle piece.

So when my son said that he would rather not take a prescription, I respected his decision.

Now I will say that anxiety is a real disorder, and it can be treated with medication.  Some people have great success with medication.  I just wasn't one of them.  If medication works for you, then by all means do what works for you and what your doctor recommend.  As always, consult a doctor before trying any of these essential oils for anxiety.  



Lavender essential oil is famous for its calming properties.  It's said to help you sleep better, reduce anxiety, calm a stomach ache, and just generally relieve tension.  

In one study, stroke patients who smelled lavender essential oil had lower stress rates while doing difficult tasks during therapy.  


Vetiver essential oil is said to be relaxing and calming.  It can reduce jitteriness, so it's often used to help calm someone who is in shock or having a panic attack.  


Chamomile essential oil is also known for being calming, both when applied topically to the skin and when inhaled.  It can reduce excess worrying, anxiety, and irritability.

If you are allergic to ragweed, it's best to avoid chamomile because it's from the same family of flowers.


Rose essential oil is widely used to relieve anxiety.  It can help relieve panic attacks and shock.  In a study, those who inhaled rose essential oil had less anxiety than the control group who did not use any aromatherapy.  


Bergamot essential oil isn't as widely used for anxiety as lavender and chamomile, but it is a calming essential oil.  It's found in Earl Gray tea.  It's said to provide energy and reduce agitation and help you relax.  

Although it hasn't been widely studied in humans, it has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress hormone levels in rats.  


Ylang ylang essential oil can boost your mood and make you happier and less fearful.  It can reduce heart palpitations and act as a sedative.  It's a good oil to diffuse if you suffer from insomnia due to anxiety.

Do not use ylang ylang if you have low blood pressure.


Frankincense essential oil can be use to calm your mood and make you more peaceful.  If you find that your mind races with anxiety, frankincense may help.  



Perhaps the most popular way to use these essential oils to reduce anxiety is through aromatherapy.  As you inhale the oil either through an essential oil diffuser or or through an inhaler stick, molecules of the oil enter your nose and create a string of reactions that goes to your brain.  This stimulates your brain to lower heart rate, slow your breathing, and can even lower blood pressure and stress hormones. 


Another way to use these essential oils for anxiety is by applying them topically.  You have to use a carrier oil to apply them topically.  Generally, you'll want to apply them to the bottom of your feet or behind your ears.  

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Cari Dunn
Cari Dunn

Cari lives on a small farm in Ohio with her husband, three kids, two dogs, two cats, five goats, several chickens, and homing pigeons. She loves Gilmore Girls, coffee, and her kids. Not in that order.