More thoughts on depression.

01Looking at a post on this subject that I have just re-blogged, I am reminded that many of those suffering from depression will never reach an aromatherapist or indeed anyone who can really help them. Yes some, I don’t know what percentage will make it into the mental health system but I having worked within that system for thirty years before taking early retirement to start my Aromatherapy and massage practice in Cambridge that some even when they make it into the system are only helped marginally by it if at all.

I am not knocking the mental health system, I feel that by and large I helped many people during my thirty years in it, some to a considerable extent. It is just that depression like so many other conditions is not a one size fits all problem. When I worked in the system, there were some I really clicked with and could help and some of them I was the only one they seemed able to talk to. Others did much better therapeutic work with others and really couldn’t work with me. Some, the system within the NHS just doesn’t seem to be able to help, perhaps because it is not flexible enough, perhaps because at the units they go to be that in patient or out patient just don’t have the right person for them.

And yet despite the differences between who someone can work with and the approach, all the times that something really works are in my experienced based on the same thing – a therapist/nurse/care assistant who really listens! Not just hears the words but who can show by their reflections on what is heard that despite not having the same experience they can understand how awful it is for the depressed individual. Sometimes for me, that has meant not holding back the tears that come as a result of what I have heard. This to me is not a weakness but a strength. If the therapist can show at a deep level that they empathise with the human being they are spending time with, feel some of their pain or distress and still be there for them, it can be a real catalyst for change.

This does not mean the change will be fast, occasionally it is but more often than not it takes time, time that the formal mental health system does not always have because of the pressure it is under.

When I see clients with depression, I do not always know, particularly at the start of a series of sessions whether or not there is an identified incident or set of circumstances which have led to the depression. Sometimes there isn’t and if a therapist tries to get a client to come up with one they can do more damage than good.

The one thing I nearly always tell my clients is that they are worth the time and deserve the treatment they receive. Guilt when appropriate is a good thing. Otherwise guilt can be incredibly destructive and learning how to let go of inappropriate guilt is often part of the journey out of depression.

Oils I often use when working with depression include, Bergamot – particularly good if there is a lot of unexpressed anger, Black Pepper – good for the individual who feels the need to endlessly analyse everything, Caraway – one of the oils that is useful when the individual has come from an emotionally unstable background, particularly if there are PTSD symptoms related to the depression, Cardamom – an oil to help restore an appetite for life, Chamomile – helps our sense of self worth and helps in letting go of fixed expectations, Cinnamon – good for those who have lost their passion for life, Clove – an oil that is particularly good for those who feel isolated and unsupported, Fennel – like Black Pepper is good for those who tend to over think and over analyse, Frankincense – one of the best oils for mental agitation and worry, Grapefruit and Lemon oils – both promote clarity and a lightness of spirit, Hyssop and Pine -both of these can help in strengthening one’s sense of personal boundaries, Jasmine is most appropriate for the kind of depression that results from unconscious restraint and repression. It helps restore a capacity for creativity, Juniper is an oil that helps break through psychological stagnation, Laurel like Rosemary can help with poor concentration, Lavender can soothe the sense of trauma that inhibits self-expression, Marjoram and Myrrh – both ancient funeral herbs are particularly useful in grief, both for the loss of a loved one but also for the loss of a way of life or of not having had a childhood etc. Melissa or lemon balm is one of the most important oils for depression,particularly for those who do not respond well to pressure, Neroli is good for those who are easily alarmed and agitated and at risk of depression due to stress, Petitgrain is the best oil for those who are perceived by others as strong but find it difficult to accept their vulnerable side, Rose – This is the foremost oil for the healing of emotional wounds, Vetivert is one of the best oils for helping individuals who have difficulty in staying grounded,Ylang Ylang – The flower of flowers is an oil to help us express and experience both pleasure and joy.

Working with any individual I would choose a maximum of five or six of these oils based on their particular needs and preferences. – Psychologically, an oil they cannot stand the smell of or which has unpleasant memories for them is not going to help.

To book an aromatherapy massage appointment for depression contact me on

07939 273 569 or