Aromatherapy for Elders with Anxiety and Depression

Posted by Lala Naidu on

As people age, they live through an increasing number of significant life changes. Their parents die, their children leave home, they retire from careers, and the outlive their spouses, siblings, and friends. Physical and health challenges lead to a loss of independence, fear of falling, medication side effects, and concerns about money. Researchers estimate the prevalence of anxiety symptoms in adults ages 65-86 is between 15-52 percent. Older adult depression in the general community ranges from 1-5 percent, but jumps to 11.5 percent during hospitalization.

You can safely apply the synergies described here diluted in 1 oz carrier oil through full-body massage, or selected body parts, or dilute with water to use in an aroma mist or diffuser.

For anxiety, combine:

  • 6 drops lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)
  • 8 drops bitter orange (Citrus x aurantium)
  • 2 drops ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)

Both lavender and bitter orange are agents that calm an overactive amygdala. The amygdala is considered the brain's "smoke detector" and is constantly on the lookout for things that might be dangerous. So, when we feel anxiety, it primes the amygdala to be more reactive. Inhaling these amygdala-soothing oils helps reduce the hypervigilance of an overactive amygdala, thereby calming anxiety.
Ylang ylang is a star-shaped yellow flower that comes from the Philippines. It demonstrates both neurosedative and antidepressant activity. Neurosedatives sedate the central nervous system by slowing down brain activity.

For depression, combine:

  • 5 drops frankincense (Boswellia sacra)
  • 8 drops lemon (Citrus limon)
  • 1 drop jasmine (Jasminium grandiflorum)*

*As real jasmine is expensive substitute with ylang ylang or clary sage (Salvia sclarea).

All three of these essential oils demonstrate notable antidepressant activity in research. Lemon is particularly interesting because it increases noradrenaline, which is stimulating. With depression, people often feel low energy or stuck, so the inclusion of a noradrenalin stimulant improves energy and boosts mental clarity.

Herbal medicine Therapy Women's Health

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