Postnatal Depression & Essential Oils
It may come as a surprise that one in four people will suffer from some form of diagnosable mental health disorder in any given year. Mental health is the scary reality of today’s society and a topic that is gathering more and more media awareness and attention. Like mental health, stress is also a common component of modern society. Though less severe and not catergorized as a mental health disorder, it still seems to be a main feature in our lives and is responsible for 60% of all human disease and illness. Health and wellness is becoming increasingly more popular and important in people's lives. Essential oils are having huge health benefits, both physically and mentally, to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. What appealed to me about the oils is the fact they can be a natural alternative for anxiety, depression and to relieve every day stress.
Essential oils always seemed a little "alternative" to me. As far as I knew, they were something you used for relaxation or to make your home smell pleasant. Before I had children, I'd always been fairly health conscious - I exercised regularly, took supplements and ate well. However, when it came to truly listening to my body and using healthy, organic medicine, I didn't give it much consideration. If I needed something for an ailment then I'd head to the pharmacy, tell the person behind the counter what was wrong and pay for the medicine. Then I had children and I became more and more aware of what we were all putting into our bodies. When essential oils came into my life, my whole view on mine and my family's health changed forever. So, how did I get into essential oils, or rather, how did they find me?
In July 2016 I became a mother for the second time and I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet. I had an 18 month old girl and a beautiful baby boy. However, my son, who is now 14 months old, spent the first 12 months of his life waking every 30-90 minutes through the night, every night. He didn't really nap in the day either so looking after him and my daughter on little to no sleep, full time whilst running a business, was hard. I saw four different doctors during that time and explained how I was feeling. I got no help. Finally, when things had really hit rock bottom, my husband took me to see another doctor. Whilst I sat sobbing, the GP wrote out a prescription for antidepressants. I asked very few questions. It was just a relief to be listened to and to feel like I was taking a step in the right direction.
I felt a lot stronger and calmer on the antidepressants but I was keen to know whether there were more natural alternatives. I met a friend a few weeks later who knew I'd been going through a tough time. She brought me a few sample bottles of dōTERRA Essential Oils....and that's when everything changed!
She gave me Balance, the grounding blend, to help ground emotions and create a sense of calmness and wellbeing, Serenity, the restful blend, to help support Thomas' sleep (and mine!), Breathe, the respiratory blend, as both my children permanently had colds and On Guard, the protective blend, to help boost immunity. I'd bought essential oils in the past but nothing ever blew me away or made me want to keep using them. With dōTERRA essential oils, the minute I opened the bottle, I knew I was experiencing something very special. The smell is so different to anything else - it immediately has an effect on the body and mood. Not only that, but I found myself reaching for the little sample bottles throughout the day just to smell them and feel uplifted and energised.
Within a few days of meeting my friend, I ordered the Family Essentials kit. It has everything I needed to get started and is often referred to as nature's medicine cabinet. The more I used the oils, the more I saw a difference in my family's health. Ever since I started using On Guard five months ago, neither of my children have been ill. I was, and continue to be, blown away by the oils. I too am happier, calmer, more energised and confident - I have Cheer, the uplifting blend, in my diffuser necklace which I wear everyday. We diffuse oils the minute we set foot through the front door and they play a big part in the children's bedtime routine.
PND is a place I never thought I'd be. I don't suppose any mother does or imagines it happening to her. However, it has taken me on a life-changing journey. I've learnt a lot about myself and the relationships in my life. I'm a better person for going through those dark days and months. What has really kept me in tune with myself and supported me in being the best and most present mother I can be are my essential oils. I must point out that I used the essential oils alongside my antidepressants until I felt ready to come off the medication. It is so important that you talk to your GP about the best options for you. There is a place for conventional medicine and without the antidepressants at the time, I'm not sure how I would have managed. However, I feel reassured that when stress occurs in my life or I feel physically or emotionally unwell, I am able to turn to my oils in the instance.
So how do these amazing little bottles work?!
Essential oils form part of the naturally occurring defence mechanism of the plant protecting it against pathogenic micro-organisms such as bacteria or fungi. It is this defence mechanism that provides a similar healing and protective quality against disease causing microbes in humans. Due to the high concentration of the essential oil extracted from the plant, it has the ability to deliver the same powerful healing properties too.
(Dr Mercola’s article explains how smell, the most primal sense we have, effects the brain and the body.)
Whether we realize it or not, our entire lives are affected by smell. When inhaled, essential oil stimulate the 50 million smell receptors inside the nasal cavity.
The brain’s emotional centre called the amygdala is located in the limbic system and is directly connected to our sense of smell. So if you’ve ever wondered why certain smells bring about a deep sense of nostalgia, it’s because the limbic system governs emotions, pleasure and memory. Whenever I smell Rosemary I'm taken straight back to memories of my honeymoon in Italy!
Certain smells influence the production of endorphins and other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that make us feel good so essential oils are not just a matter of aromas being emotive. Our thoughts and feelings are sent out as chemicals into our body so negative feelings like stress make it hard for us to feel positive because the receptors in our cells shut down. Essential oils help to chemically convert what's happening in the brain and help us to feel happier on a chemical level.
(Here’s a wonderful article on smells and your well-being from the Huffington Post.)
What You Should Consider Before Choosing Your Essential Oil
The most important consideration when it comes to choosing essential oil is quality. To get the most out of essential oil, you must choose a therapeutic-grade that does not contain synthetic chemicals or compounds than may contain fillers or artificial ingredients. Not only will this dilute the natural composition of the plant extract but it can also cause harm to your body. Thats where dōTERRA come in! Please read my recent blog on why dōTERRA essential oils are 100% therapeutic grade and so different to any other. Their internal standards also guarantee 100% sourcing and testing of pure aromatic botanical extracts using independent testing laboratories. In other words there a few producers of essential oil that come anywhere close to perfecting such a grade.
Best Essential Oil for Anxiety, Depression and Stress:
For Anxiety: Lavender, bergamot, rose, clary sage, lemon, Roman chamomile, orange, sandalwood, rose-scented geranium, and pine
For Depression: Bergamot, clary sage, frankincense peppermint, chamomile, blue tansy, lavender, and jasmine.
For Stress: Lavender, lemon, frankincense, orange, bergamot, peppermint, vetiver, pine, and ylang ylang.
For Wellbeing: Bergamot , geranium, Frankincense, Myrhh, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang.
Essential oil truly is an essential ingredient for better health and well-being.
If you'd like to learn more about doTERRA's essential oils then come along to a class, either in person or via my webinars, or simply get in touch. You purchase oils here.
If you think you might have pre or postnatal depression please speak to either your midwife, health visitor or GP. It's ok not to be ok.