Depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms of the menopausal transition may be especially difficult to deal with as they are not as tangible as hot flashes. Yet, they can affect women's lives with equal or greater strength.
Complementary medicine, including aromatherapy, has shown great results in terms of promoting relaxation and relieving psychological distress.1 As such, this trial was set to determine whether aromatherapy with lavender - one of the most popular calming herbs - can alleviate depression and anxiety.
Researchers involved 46 women who were older than 45 and postmenopausal for at least five years. To be included in the trial, they also had to have a depression score greater than 10 on the Beck Depression Inventory.
Women were divided into two groups. For 20 minutes nightly over the span of four weeks, women in treatment received 2% lavender essence aromatherapy, while those in the control group received a distilled water aromatherapy.
Outcomes were measured using the Beck Depression Inventory and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), which were administered before and after the study.
In comparison to the control group, women in the lavender aromatherapy group showed lower mean scores of depression and state anxiety after four weeks of treatment (mean differences of -6.56 and -5.48, respectively).
Researchers did not observe substantial differences in trait anxiety scores, which is the second type of anxiety measured by STAI (the first one being state anxiety).
No significant improvements were observed in the control group.
What Does It Mean?
This study has produced clinically-valid evidence that lavender aromatherapy is effective for depression and anxiety during postmenopause.
These findings complement those of another clinical trial, which found that oral consumption of lavender reduces anxiety in menopause.2
Complementary, natural interventions, such as lavender aromatherapy for depression and anxiety, are of great value when it comes to relieving menopause symptoms as they reduce the need of pharmacological help. By that, they allow women to deal with their discomforts naturally and cost-effectively, without unnecessary side effects.
- The Journal of Nurse Practitioners. (2020). The Effects of Inhalation Lavender Aromatherapy on Postmenopausal Women's Depression and Anxiety: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1555415520302488
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. (2013). Effect of aromatherapy massage on the psychological symptoms of postmenopausal Iranian women. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229913000629
- Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. (2018). Comparison of the effect of lavender and bitter orange on anxiety in postmenopausal women: A triple-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Retrieved March 10, 2021 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388117304012