Essential oil blends for depression and anxiety

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

  • Suggested Resources

    What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families
    Created for family members of people with alcohol abuse or drug abuse problems. Answers questions about substance abuse, its symptoms, different types of treatment, and recovery. Addresses concerns of children of parents with substance use/abuse problems.

    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
    Assures teens with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs that, "It's not your fault!" and that they are not alone. Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

    After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department
    Aids family members in coping with the aftermath of a relative's suicide attempt. Describes the emergency department treatment process, lists questions to ask about follow-up treatment, and describes how to reduce risk and ensure safety at home.

    Family Therapy Can Help: For People in Recovery From Mental Illness or Addiction
    Explores the role of family therapy in recovery from mental illness or substance abuse. Explains how family therapy sessions are run and who conducts them, describes a typical session, and provides information on its effectiveness in recovery.

    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

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Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.



  • In 2020, 50.0% of people aged 12 or older (or 138.5 million people) used alcohol in the past month (i.e., current alcohol users) (2020 NSDUH)
  • Among the 138.5 million people who were current alcohol users, 61. 6 million people (or 44.4%) were classified as binge drinkers and 17.7 million people (28.8% of current binge drinkers and 12.8% of current alcohol users) were classified as heavy drinkers (2020 NSDUH)
  • The percentage of people who were past month binge alcohol users was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (31.4%) compared with 22.9% of adults aged 26 or older and 4.1% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (2020 NSDUH)
  • The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 139.7 million Americans age 12 or older were past month alcohol users, 65.8 million people were binge drinkers in the past month, and 16 million were heavy drinkers in the past month
  • About 2.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2019 drank alcohol in the past month, and 1.2 million of these adolescents binge drank in that period (2019 NSDUH)
  • Approximately 14.5 million people age 12 or older had an alcohol use disorder (2019 NSDUH)
  • Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of stroke, liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, cancer, and other serious health conditions
  • Excessive alcohol use can also lead to risk-taking behavior, including driving while impaired. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver daily


  • STOP Underage Drinking interagency portal - Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking
  • Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking
  • Talk. They Hear You.
  • Underage Drinking: Myths vs. Facts
  • Talking with your College-Bound Young Adult About Alcohol

Relevant links:

  • National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
  • Department of Transportation Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance
  • Alcohol Policy Information Systems Database (APIS)
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism



  • In 2020, 20.7% of people aged 12 or older (or 57. 3 million people) used nicotine products (i.e., used tobacco products or vaped nicotine) in the past month (2020 NSDUH)
  • Among past month users of nicotine products, nearly two thirds of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (63.1%) vaped nicotine but did not use tobacco products. In contrast, 88.9% of past month nicotine product users aged 26 or older used only tobacco products (2020 NSDUH)
  • Data from the 2019 NSDUH reports that 58.1 million people were current (i.e., past month) tobacco users. Specifically, 45.9 million people aged 12 or older in 2019 were past month cigarette smokers (2019 NSDUH)
  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, often leading to lung cancer, respiratory disorders, heart disease, stroke, and other serious illnesses. The CDC reports that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States
  • The CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health reports that more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking cigarettes

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use data:

  • Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey.  Among both middle and high school students, current use of e-cigarettes declined from 2019 to 2020, reversing previous trends and returning current e-cigarette use to levels similar to those observed in 2018
  • E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, or pregnant women, especially because they contain nicotine and other chemicals


  • Tips for Teens: Tobacco
  • Tips for Teens: E-cigarettes
  • Implementing Tobacco Cessation Programs in Substance Use Disorder Treatment Settings
  • Synar Amendment Program


  • Truth Initiative
  • FDA Center for Tobacco Products
  • CDC Office on Smoking and Health
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: E-Cigarettes



  • Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 3.4% (or 9.5 million people) misused opioids in the past year. Among the 9.5 million people who misused opioids in the past year, 9.3 million people misused prescription pain relievers and 902,000 people used heroin (2020 NSDUH)
  • An estimated 745,000 people had used heroin in the past year, based on 2019 NSDUH data
  • In 2019, there were 10.1 million people age 12 or older who misused opioids in the past year. The vast majority of people misused prescription pain relievers (2019 NSDUH)
  • An estimated 1.6 million people aged 12 or older had an opioid use disorder based on 2019 NSDUH data
  • Opioid use, specifically injection drug use, is a risk factor for contracting HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. The CDC reports that people who inject drugs accounted for 9 percent of HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2016
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Understanding the Epidemic, an average of 128 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose


  • Medication-Assisted Treatment
  • Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit
  • TIP 63: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder
  • Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Criminal Justice Settings
  • Opioid Use Disorder and Pregnancy
  • Clinical Guidance for Treating Pregnant and Parenting Women With Opioid Use Disorder and Their Infants
  • The Facts about Buprenorphine for Treatment of Opioid Addiction
  • Pregnancy Planning for Women Being Treated for Opioid Use Disorder
  • Tips for Teens: Opioids
  • Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Grants
  • Tribal Opioid Response Grants
  • Provider’s Clinical Support System - Medication Assisted Treatment Grant Program


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Opioids
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Heroin
  • HHS Prevent Opioid Abuse
  • Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
  • Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network
  • Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC) Network



  • The percentage of people who used marijuana in the past year was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (34. 5%) compared with 16.3% of adults aged 26 or older and 10.1% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (2020 NSDUH)
  • 2019 NSDUH data indicates that 48.2 million Americans aged 12 or older, 17.5 percent of the population, used marijuana in the past year
  • Approximately 4.8 million people aged 12 or older in 2019 had a marijuana use disorder in the past year (2019 NSDUH)
  • Marijuana can impair judgment and distort perception in the short term and can lead to memory impairment in the long term
  • Marijuana can have significant health effects on youth and pregnant women.


  • Know the Risks of Marijuana
  • Marijuana and Pregnancy
  • Tips for Teens: Marijuana

Relevant links:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Marijuana
  • Addiction Technology Transfer Centers on Marijuana
  • CDC Marijuana and Public Health

Emerging Trends in Substance Misuse:

  • Methamphetamine—In 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • Cocaine—In 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
  • Kratom—In 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.


  • Tips for Teens: Methamphetamine
  • Tips for Teens: Cocaine
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse

More SAMHSA publications on substance use prevention and treatment.

Last Updated: 04/27/2022

Research's Top 6 Essential Oils for Anxiety

The essential oils from these plants are a proven natural remedy for dealing with anxiety, fears, insomnia and stress.

Lavender oil

Lavender essential oil is considered one of the most effective remedies against anxiety and stress. Lavender has a beneficial effect on the nervous system: it has a calming, relaxing effect. It has been proven that the aromatic oil of this plant helps with insomnia, panic attacks, and various psychosomatic disorders. “In one study, participants were given lavender essential oil capsules before watching an anxiety-inducing movie,” says Josh Ax, MD, Functional Medicine, Nutritionist. - And the heart rate after taking them was significantly reduced compared to placebo. This suggests that lavender aromatic oil has an anxiolytic effect, which manifests itself in reducing anxiety, fear, and reducing emotional stress. There are also a number of studies demonstrating the ability of lavender ether to reduce anxiety in patients before coronary artery bypass surgery and dental visits.

Damask Rose Oil

The second most popular anti-anxiety and depression remedy after lavender. Damask rose ether helps to cope with panic disorders, shock, fear, sadness. The Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal described a study in which two groups of pregnant women took part. It was the first pregnancy for everyone, and the upcoming birth, which is quite natural, caused anxiety. One group of expectant mothers was offered a 10-minute inhalation and foot bath with rose ether. The second is just a warm foot bath. As a result, it turned out that women after a session of aromatherapy became less anxious. The usual relaxing procedure had no such effect.

Vetiver oil

Vetiver essential oil has the ability to pacify, soothe, give a feeling of spiritual comfort. “This is why vetiver is often used in post-traumatic therapy,” says Josh Ax. - The pronounced anti-anxiety effect of the aromatic oil of this plant was discovered in the course of a study, the results of which appeared in the journal Natural Product Research. The experiment, however, was carried out on laboratory animals and the issue requires further study.

Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang Ylang essential oil is often used in the treatment of anxiety and depression. This plant has a relaxing effect, relieves nervous tension, helps to cope with phobias, insomnia. Aromatherapy sessions using ylang-ylang oil are also useful for those who have lost the joy of life, who need a boost of energy and optimism. “A study conducted in 2006 by Korean scientists found that using a mixture of ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender aroma oils once a day for a month reduced the adverse effects of stress, lowered cortisol levels, and also lowered blood pressure in those who suffer from hypertension, says Josh Ax. “If you have low blood pressure, you need to be careful with ylang-ylang ester.”

Bergamot oil

Bergamot essential oil perfectly calms the nervous system, relieves emotional stress, therefore it is recommended for everyone who lives in conditions of chronic stress. The pronounced relaxing effect makes it a good remedy for insomnia. Experiments on laboratory rats have confirmed the ability of bergamot oil to reduce the level of corticosterone, a hormone responsible for the body's response to stress. In a 2011 study, scientists found that a mixture of bergamot and lavender aromatic oils applied to the skin helped reduce anxiety in depressive disorders. The "experimental" decreased blood pressure and heart rate. When using bergamot essential oil, remember that it makes the skin sensitive to sunlight and can cause burns.

Chamomile oil

Delicate, soothing aroma of chamomile will help you find inner harmony, stability, cope with anxiety, restlessness, and obsessive thoughts. According to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania who studied chamomile essential oil as an antidepressant, it has clinically significant activity in the treatment of depression. The pronounced anti-anxiety effect of aroma oil was also proven in a study published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Chamomile essential oil is considered fairly safe, but can sometimes cause allergies, especially in people with ragweed intolerance.

How to use essential oils

The most popular ways to use essential oils to treat anxiety disorders are inhalations and water treatments. "Aromatic oils can also be applied to various areas of the skin, hair, nails, pre-mixed with a small amount of base oil - coconut, almond, jojoba, avocado, olive," says Josh Ax. - Esters can be taken orally by diluting a few drops in a glass of water, tea, or adding honey to a spoon. However, you must be sure that the fragrance oil you are using is of high quality.” There are also biological supplements with essential oils. As a rule, they are produced in the form of capsules.

Essential oils may cause allergic reactions. Before use, do tests: olfactory and skin. In the first case, apply a drop of aroma oil on a piece of clean cloth and inhale the aroma 4-5 times during the day. For a skin test, run an ether-soaked cotton ball behind the ear, on the wrist, or in the crook of the elbow. Obvious symptoms of intolerance are difficulty breathing, itching, skin irritation, sweating, dizziness.

Essential oils for depression: what works?

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Depression can affect how you feel, think and act. Although it is a mood disorder, depression can cause both physical and emotional symptoms. These can vary from person to person, but often include:

  • anxiety
  • anxiety
  • Tuga
  • despair
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping

People use essential oils as an adjunctive treatment for many conditions, including depression. It is important to note that essential oils are not a cure for depression. This is a non-drug option that may relieve some of your symptoms and help you manage your condition. In most cases, essential oils are safe and have no side effects.

What Research Says

Although there are dozens of essential oils on the market, research on their potential benefits, risks, and effectiveness is often limited.


The floral yet earthy aroma of lavender oil is often valued for its soothing properties. Stray suggests that lavender aromatherapy can help:

  • relieve anxiety
  • reduce stress
  • improve mood
  • promote relaxation

The herb itself can also help with depression. Researchers in a 2003 study compared the effectiveness of lavender tincture with the antidepressant imipramine. A tincture is different from an essential oil. Tinctures are made from fresh herbs and grain alcohol such as vodka. The researchers concluded that lavender tincture may be a useful adjunctive therapy for treating mild to moderate depression.

Wild ginger

Prema 2014 Animal study, wild ginger may have antidepressant properties. The researchers found that mice that were stressed and inhaled wild ginger oil experienced less stress. They also showed less depressive behavior. The oil is believed to activate the serotonergic system, which is the brain's transmission system associated with depression. This can slow down the release of stress hormones.


The aroma of bergamot citrus oil is known to be uplifting and soothing. According to a 2013 study, bergamot oil aromatherapy significantly reduced anxiety in patients awaiting outpatient surgery. Although depression and anxiety are different disorders, they often occur at the same time. Anxiety is also a possible complication of depression. It is not clear how bergamot relieves fear. It can help reduce the release of stress hormones during stressful situations.

Other oils

Studies have shown that both ylang ylang oil and essential oil have a calming and relaxing effect. Oils can also reduce so-called "autonomous functions" such as breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure.

Although other essential oils are believed to relieve symptoms of depression, the supporting evidence is largely anecdotal. Some of these oils are:

  • chamomile
  • sweet orange
  • grapefruit
  • neroli
  • incense
  • jasmine
  • sandalwood

Continue reading: Does your depression treatment work? »

How to Use Essential Oils for Depression

These essential oils are primarily known for their aromatic effects on depression and its symptoms. Depending on whether you want to inhale the fragrance directly or let it spread throughout the area. They must still enjoy its effects.

Here are the most common ways to inhale aromas:

  • Inhale the aroma directly from the oil bottle or inhaler tube.
  • Apply a few drops of essential oil to a cotton swab and inhale directly.
  • Add a few drops of oil to the diffuser and inhale indirectly.
  • Make an aromatherapy bath by adding a few drops of essential oil diluted with honey, milk or butter to the water.
  • Enjoy an aromatherapy massage by adding a few drops of essential oil to your favorite massage oil.

A combination of essential oils can also help with depression. 2008. research. Fifty-eight hospitalized hospice patients with terminal cancer received either a hand massage using general massage oil or an aromatherapy massage oil for seven consecutive days. Aromatherapy oil is made from essential oils of frankincense, lavender and bergamot. People who received aromatherapy massage experienced significantly less pain and depression.

Risks and Warnings

People with respiratory problems, pregnant women and children should not use essential oils except under the supervision of a physician or trained aromatherapist.

All essential oils can cause an allergic reaction and should not be applied undiluted to the skin. If you plan to apply the essential oil blend to your skin, add 1 oz of carrier oil for every 3-6 drops of essential oil. Common base oils include:

  • sweet almond oil
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • jojoba oil

You should also do a skin test before intensive applications. Apply a small amount of essential oil/carrier mixture to a small area of ​​skin at least 24 hours prior to intended use. This will allow you to see if the mixture will cause a reaction in your skin.

Do not swallow essential oils.

The US Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the use of essential oils. Buy only oils from a reputable manufacturer. If possible, seek the advice of a trained aromatherapist.

Other treatments for depression

You should not replace your current depression treatment plan with essential oils without your doctor's approval. Essential oils are only intended as an adjunct treatment to your current regimen.

Traditional treatments for depression include:

  • prescription antidepressants
  • psychotherapy, including individual and group sessions
  • inpatient psychiatric treatment for severe depression
  • electroconvulsive therapy for people who do not respond to medication, cannot take antidepressants, or are at high risk of suicide
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation for people who do not respond to antidepressants

Untreated or poorly controlled depression can lead to:

  • physical pain
  • anxiety disorders
  • suicidal ideation
  • alcohol or drug abuse

What you can do now

If you are depressed, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Learn more