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Scents for Helping With Relaxation & Depression

By Pamela Gentry ; Updated August 14, 2017

According to “The Smell Report” by the Social Issues Research Center, different scents stimulate cognitive recognition in the brain. The cognitive memory that is accessed is often highly personal as a particular scent may have accompanied a meaningful moment. The power of smell has been recognized as the positive effects of aromatherapy become more recognized. Whether feeling depressed or tense, aromatherapy offers a natural and drug-free way to feel balanced again.

Most people already know what their favorite scents are. The smell of a freshly-baked apple pie or the smell of fresh coffee brewing invokes warm and happy feelings in many people. In considering what scent will change your mood for the better, use your intuition to guide you to what your nose already knows.

Scents for Depression

Possessing a vibrant citrus aroma, bergamot essential oil has an uplifting lime fragrance that is helpful for counteracting depression. In aromatherapy, the earthy scent of clary sage essential oil and the spicy scent of frankincense essential oil are both believed to have a positive influence on depressive states.

In “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” author Phyllis Balch recommends geranium oil to balance mood swings caused by PMS. She also names jasmine essential oil as an effective antidepressant and sedative when used in aromatherapy. Scents with a familiar citrus scent such as essential oils of lemon and orange may be especially effective to those who connect these fragrances with warm memories.

Scents for Relaxation

Perhaps the most widely-recognized scent known for its relaxing qualities is lavender oil. Not to be confused with chemically-manufactured lavender scent, essential oil of lavender calms the nervous system and relaxes the body for better sleep. Chamomile essential oil is another useful scent in aromatherapy for inducing calm and countering insomnia. Sandalwood essential oil has an earthy fragrance that has a natural calming effect on the nervous system. Other mentionable calming essential oils include neroli, mandarin, patchouli and ylang-ylang.


A 2005 Study from the Department of Nursing at the Kongju National University in Korea was conducted to determine the effect of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function and depressive dementia-related behavior. Administered in the form of a hand massage, lavender oil was shown to decrease aggressive behavior in dementia patients and balance the emotions.

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