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Essential Oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder – Improving Mood Disorders

Most of us, at one time or another, have been affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). S.A.D is a mood disorder and differs from those suffering from clinical depression by the seasonal component. Onset symptoms that typically occur during the change of seasons at the end of fall or beginning of winter. S.A.D. affects both [...]

Most of us, at one time or another, have been affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). S.A.D is a mood disorder and differs from those suffering from clinical depression by the seasonal component. Onset symptoms that typically occur during the change of seasons at the end of fall or beginning of winter. S.A.D. affects both the person suffering from the disorder as well as those that live and interact with the person, leaving many searching for answers to help themselves or those they love.

Symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Appetite and weight fluctuations
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Thoughts of hopelessness, leaving this planet and inability to move on

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The cause of S.A.D. is currently unknown although there seem to be factors that have influence over the disorder. Some of the most common include:

  • A decrease in Serotonin production
  • An increase in Melatonin production
  • A decrease in Dopamine and Norepinephrine levels

Common Treatments:

Common treatments for S.A.D. include: light box therapy, sun-gazing, the use of a dawn simulator alarm clock, daily exercise, increased intake of vitamin D, and aromatherapy.

Olfactory System Link to Depression:

The olfactory system is involved in emotional regulation, memory formation and sensory functions. In a 2014 study, scientists found that olfaction is impaired in animals suffering from chronic stress as well as clinical patients with depression which were reported as having a decreased olfactory function. Neurologists now believe depression may include dysfunction in the olfactory system and that nasal based therapies could offer relief for depression management.[1] “In a 2016 study, scientists reported “it has been shown that olfactory deficits could induce depressive symptoms.”[2] The study continues that rat models studied reinforce the hypothesis of the important role olfaction plays on the depressive state. “Several publications have demonstrated that odors can positively impact the depressive mood. Thus, a remediation by odors in depression appears to be a promising (choice for therapy).” [3] A prime example with certain oils, high in specific chemical constituents, that have an immediate effect on the brain and nervous system upon inhalation.

Treating S.A.D. with Essential Oils


Aroma-therapeutic inhalation has been shown to have effects on mood, stress and anxiety. In a 2016 clinical study, researchers studied a combination of light stimuli and aroma therapy using select essential oils. Both heart rate and blood pressure were monitored as well as a Profile of Mood States was administered before and after the tests. Of the two sensory stimuli, the odor stimulus contributed most to the lowering of both systolic and diastolic, and reduced heart rate compared to the control group with lemon inducing the greatest mood changes in Dejection—Depression, Anger-Hostility, Tension-Anxiety.[3] In a 1995 clinical study, it was summarized that “the treatment with citrus fragrance normalized neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune function and was rather more effective than antidepressants.”[4]

Sweet Orange

Research is demonstrating that orange essential oils can be effective in improving sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep satisfaction, depression, anxiety and blood pressure. In a 2017 clinical study on elderly women, results showed remarkable improvements from treatment with an aroma-necklace filled with orange oil & marjoram.[5]


Bergamot is known for its calming and uplifting effects. ” A 2017 pilot study published in the Phytotherapy Research Journal found that breathing in bergamot essential oil can increase positive feelings—trial participants reported that they felt proud and energetic after waiting in a bergamot-filled room for 15 minutes.”[6] In a 2013 clinical study of 109 pre-surgical patients, study showed that bergamot essential oil aromatherapy reduced preoperative anxiety in the control groups.


Jasmine is widely regarded for its stimulating effect on the brain as well as its ability to offer depression and anxiety relief. In a 2010 study, “results demonstrated the stimulating/activating effect of jasmine oil and provide evidence for its use in aromatherapy for the relief of depression and uplifting mood in humans.”[7] In a 2013 study, scientists reported increases in positive emotions including: the feeling of being active, fresh, romantic, and an overall uplifted mood while using jasmine oil. “It could be suggested from these results that jasmine oil has stimulatory effects on the function of nervous system. Interestingly, it could be concluded from this study that inhalation of jasmine oil affected to brain wave activities and mood states.”[8]

Clary Sage

Clary Sage is warming, sedative, an excellent nerve tonic, and can induce feelings of euphoria in some individuals. “Clary Sage’s main component, linalyl acetate, is praised for its ability to help people (relax). In fact, a study conducted in 2013 found that women who inhaled clary sage essential-oil vapor showed reduced blood pressure, respiratory rates, and salivary cortisol levels—all things that can help lull you into a restful state.”[9] Clary sage has been tested on both animals and humans to determine its potential benefits as an antidepressant. In a 2010 study on rat models indicates that clary sage oil could be beneficial for depression by acting as an anti-stressor.[10]


Rosemary has been used medicinally in many ancient civilizations as a purifying and protective herb against diseases and illnesses. What we now are finding through dedicated research is that Rosemary also has potent psychological benefits. In a 2009 study which measured the emotional responses in individuals who received a topical application of Rosemary found that “at the emotional level, subjects feel more attentive, more alert, more vigorous, and more cheerful than before the administration of the oil”. The study concluded that their “investigation demonstrates the stimulating effect of rosemary oil and provides evidence for its use in medicines for the relief of depression and stress in humans.[11]

Roman Chamomile

Roman Chamomile essential oil is highly sought after for its remarkable calming effects. It can impart its soothing effects in exceptionally small amounts. “Chamomile has been studied in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Recent results from a controlled clinical trial on chamomile extract for GAD suggests that it may have modest anxiolytic activity in patients with mild to moderate GAD (72).”[12]


Lavender can be used for its calming and relaxing qualities to help reduce anxiety and depressive states. “Lavender was used in the treatment of anxiety disorders and related conditions. Three clinical trials were identified which investigated the efficacy of oral lavender oil preparation (silexan; an essential oil produced from lavender flowers by steam distillation), administered once daily at a dose of 80 mg/day, in subsyndromal (mixed) anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder as well as in restlessness and agitation. Anxiolytic effect of lavender was superior to placebo in 221 patients suffering from anxiety disorder. In addition, lavender improved associated symptoms such as restlessness, disturbed sleep, and somatic complaints and had a beneficial influence on general well-being and quality of life.”[13]

Be Happy Blend

Our Be Happy Blend is a combination of oils which embody properties that help uplift the spirit, ground the individual, and offer assistance during times of need. This bright, mood-elevating essential oil blend includes: Organic Bergamot, Organic Sweet Orange, Organic steam distilled Juniper Berry, Marjoram, and Vetiver. Several oils have been researched for their anxiolytic properties.



[1] Yuan TF1, Slotnick BM2. Roles of olfactory system dysfunction in depression. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Oct 3;54:26-30.

[2] Brand G1, Schaal B2. [Olfaction in depressive disorders: Issues and perspectives]. Encephale. 2017 Apr;43(2):176-182.

[3] Dong S1, Jacob TJ2. Combined non-adaptive light and smell stimuli lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate and reduced negative affect. Physiol Behav. 2016 Mar 15;156:94-105.

[4] Komori T1, Fujiwara R, Tanida M, et al. Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation. 1995 May-Jun;2(3):174-80.

[5] Chun N1, Kim M2, Noh GO3. [Effects of a Sleep Improvement Program Combined with Aroma-Necklace on Sleep, Depression, Anxiety and Blood Pressure in Elderly Women]. J Korean Acad Nurs. 2017 Oct;47(5):651-662.

[6] Franklin, Arielle R. 2018. “Natural Mood Boosters.” Health 32 (8): 78.

[7] Hongratanaworakit T1. Stimulating effect of aromatherapy massage with jasmine oil. Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Jan;5(1):157-62.

[8] Sayowan, Winai & Siripornpanich, Vorasith & Hongratanaworakit, Tapanee & Kotchabhakdi, Naiphinich & Ruangrungsi, Nijsiri. (2013). The effects of jasmine Oil inhalation on brain wave activities and emotions. Journal of Health Research. 27. 73-77.

[9] Seol GH1, Lee YH, Kang P, et al. Randomized controlled trial for Salvia sclarea or Lavandula angustifolia: differential effects on blood pressure in female patients with urinary incontinence undergoing urodynamic examination. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Jul;19(7):664-70.

[10] Seol GH1, Shim HS, Kim PJ, et al. Antidepressant-like effect of Salvia sclarea is explained by modulation of dopamine activities in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jul 6;130(1):187-90.

[11] Tapanee HONGRATANAWORAKIT. Simultaneous Aromatherapy Massage with Rosemary Oil on Humans. Sci. Pharm. 2009, 77(2), 375-388;

[12] Janmejai K. Srivastava1,2,4, Eswar Shankar1,2 and Sanjay Gupta. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past

with a bright future. Molecular Medicine REPORTS 3: 895-901, 2010

[13] Peir Hossein Koulivand,1 Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri,2 and Ali Gorji. Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2013, Article ID 681304, 10 pages

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