Do essential oils help the symptoms of anxiety?
*I would like to preface this by saying that this post is in no way a substitute for medical advice. If you are feeling the effects of anxiety, please talk to a trusted medical provider.*
Anxiety is defined as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome."
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, occasional anxiety is normal. For example, at holiday time, you might feel anxious about all of the gifts to buy, wrap, and the impending visit with out-of-state relatives. Don't we all feel anxious around the holidays, for example? Children often feel anxious at the beginning of the new school year or the night before a big test. It's normal. I think anyone of us can relate to that feeling.
Then there are times when anxiety is more than a fleeting feeling. We're friends here. I've been sharing with you here on this blog for 14 years years. I've talked about everything from acne break outs to pumpkin donuts to stray chin hairs. I think sometimes that it is therapeutic to write things down. If anything, I hope that sharing can help others.
After I had my second child in 2005, I felt not quite like myself, to put it mildly. I was down. My dad had died at age 56 of cancer while I was pregnant. I was exhausted. I had two babies under 2, was grieving, and ended up breaking my leg after falling down the stairs. It was a rough patch.
While the sadness would subside, one thing that seemed to be brewing was overwhelming anxiety -- not the "normal" sense of occasional worry, but constant thoughts of worry. I suppose they were completely unrealistic thoughts of worry.
I would imagine the worst case scenario in my head and become consumed with that worry. For example, if my husband took a few minutes longer than normal to get home from work, I would picture his car in a ditch. I would become paralyzed with fear that I would be a young widow. Instead of thinking, "Hey, it's winter time in Rochester and it will take him an extra few minutes to get home," my mind just would jump to the worst possible situation. At times, the fear would literally prevent me from moving. It nearly consumed me.
I finally talked to my doctor and was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder 15 years ago. Very few people knew about this. I was embarrassed. I missed fun events with friends and even my own birthday party once due to panic attacks. Thankfully, the worst has been behind me for a couple of years now.
Truth be told, I never would have thought to even type out the words "I have a mental illness" -- and anxiety disorder falls into that category. The fact of the matter is that nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a mental illness. Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness
I take medication. I am not ashamed to admit it. Just as many diabetics need insulin to manage their diabetes, many people with anxiety need medication to manage their symptoms. I am one of those people and have come to realize that there are many people like me. Are you one of them? Please know you are not alone.
Aromatherapy and Anxiety
I have found some things that I can do, though, really do help. I like to practice yoga and write in my journal. I love reading and sitting with my dog and a fuzzy blanket and cup of herbal tea. Aromatherapy also makes a big difference to me personally.
Essential Oils - We have spoken of the many benefits of essential oils here before. Lavender has long been a go-to oil for me, especially in the evening when I tend to worry more. A scientific research team at Texas A & M University conducted a study to measure a human’s response to odor. Study participants were asleep and given EEG tests. This study was conducted in 1992 and had interesting results. It showed that Lavender Essential Oil essentially lulled the participants to sleep sooner.
I also studied aromatherapy for years, taking classes dating back to 2000 and ending as recently as last summer when I completed Clinical Aromatherapy through the Earl E. Bakken School at the University of Minnesota online. It is NOT a magic pill. It is NOT a replacement for medication. It is not a replacement for therapy. It can, however, help as a complement to western medicine.
My aromatherapy favorites for helping my anxiety:
I also recommend my tried and true Plant Therapy Organic Lavender Essential Oil. I have tried many essential oil brands over the years and the ONLY company I buy from is Plant Therapy.