According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s about 18% of the total population. Anxiety disorders are the result of a combination of factors including genetics, personality, and life events. The most common treatments are therapy and medications like Xanax and Ativan.

The problem with those meds is that they can be quite sedating and also carry a high risk of dependency. Because of this, anxiety sufferers are looking at alternative and more natural ways to manage their symptoms.

Essential oils are one of those ways. They’ve been proven to increase production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain and increase feelings of well-being while reducing stress. Essential oils can also lower blood pressure and heart rate. Read on to learn more about how to relieve anxiety with essential oils.

How to Use

The most common way to use essential oils for anxiety relief is through a diffuser. Diffusers have become so popular that even medical facilities and offices have started using them distribute an essential oil for anxiety to reduce tension and stress. Here are a couple of blends to try.

For calmness and focus combine three drops lavender, one drop mint oil of your choice, and three drops rosemary. To reduce feeling overwhelmed try two drops of sage, one drop ylang-ylang, two drops of geranium and one drop lemon oil.

Here are some other oils to try for anxiety relief:


Jasmine is known for its incredible fragrance. It’s also thought to have the ability to calm the nervous system without the sleepiness brought on by traditional anxiety meds. It works best by being allowed to fill a room through a diffuser.


Lavender is one of the most well known and most used oils for anxiety. It is thought to have an effect on the part of the brain that controls emotions. Lavender oil uses include in the bath, in a diffuser, or added to water and used as a linen spray.


This oil comes from citrus fruits, and according to research, trials on both humans and animals found it is effective as a mood enhancer and anxiety reducer. This should only be used in a diffuser or sniffed from a cotton ball. If applied to the skin it will increase sunburn risk.


Another classic, Chamomile is beloved for the tea that is made from its daisy-like flowers, but it also shows promise as an essential oil. While chamomile supplements may benefit people that suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, the research on the essential oil still has a long way to go. Add it to your bath or dilute it in a carrier oil or lotion.


This oil comes from a plant in India. A 2015 study showed it has anti-anxiety properties, not unlike that of the popular anti-anxiety drug diazepam. It can be used for massage or in a diffuser.


This biblical oil is made from the Boswellia tree and is thought to reduce anxiety. A study in 2008 found that terminally ill people given a massage using frankincense, bergamot, and lavender reported reduced depression, pain, and anxiety. It can be used in a diffuser or as a massage oil when diluted.


Geranium comes from the same plant that we see in many sunny windowsills. The oil has shown promise in reducing blood pressure and easing anxiety. It can be used by simply adding a couple of drops to a tissue or cotton pad and waving under your nose.


While most people think of basil as a staple of Italian food, basil oil can be very beneficial in reducing stress. There are two kinds of basil oils to choose from. Holy Basil, which is not the same basil we cook with but closely related, has a spicy, minty scent that is thought to have a positive impact on both physical and mental anxiety symptoms.

Sweet basil, which is the same as the herb we cook with, is thought to help calm the mind and reduce stress without the sedating properties of traditional anxiety meds. 

To use either, add a few drops to a diffuser but remember, less is more. They have powerful scents so use sparingly.

Wrapping Up

It’s important to remember that no essential oil is a cure-all.  If you’ve been using them for a while and your anxiety has not improved or has gotten worse, please speak to your doctor. Use oils for anxiety sparingly, a little goes a long way, and make sure that you know how each one is supposed to be used.

If one oil isn’t quite working for you, try another or experiment with a blend. If you experience any sinus, skin or respiratory irritation, or headaches, stop using the oil at once. Don’t use oils to treat anxiety in children unless under a doctor’s supervision.

Don’t worry if your anxiety doesn’t go away immediately, as it can take some time for the oils to take effect. If you haven’t noticed any improvement after an hour or two, that oil may not be effective for you, or it might simply be old and lost its potency.

Anxiety can be debilitating, but essential oils can bring real relief. There are many different kinds that can improve mood, reduce blood pressure, ease stress and even calm emotions. Research each one carefully and be sure to follow its directions for usage.

Try some blends for even more relief. You can stick with old favorites like lavender and chamomile, or try new oils like Vetiver. There are a wide variety of essential oils for anxiety available so if one doesn’t seem effective don’t be afraid to try another.

Anxiety doesn’t have to bring your life to a screeching halt, and you don’t have to rely on medications that can be sedating and habit forming. Try essential oils instead and manage your stress naturally and easily with a whole body approach.

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