Essential Oils for Panic Attack

by Jade Shutes

A few weeks ago, I experienced an overwhelming panic attack that seemed to come on suddenly. I noticed my breathing get shallow and my heart start racing with anxious thoughts spiraling. In that moment, I decided to make an aromatherapy inhaler to help calm me down. I used a blend of coriander seed, mandarin, and clary sage. After preparing the inhaler, I found a quiet space to do some deep breathing exercises, inhaling for 4 counts, holding for 7, and exhaling slowly for 8 counts. Combining the aroma inhalations with conscious breathing helped slow my racing mind and body. The panic attack eased up within about 15 minutes, leaving me feeling much more relaxed and in control. Having tools like aromatherapy at hand can make a big difference in coping when overwhelming panic or anxiety strikes.

What is a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks can be an incredibly frightening experience. These episodes tend to come out of the blue, leaving individuals overwhelmed with intense fear and anxiety.

The signs of a panic attack often include a racing heart, a shortness of breath, a persistent feeling of impending doom, upset stomach, or dizziness. These physical and emotional manifestations can be truly distressing.

For individuals who encounter panic attacks, finding effective interventions and coping mechanisms is of utmost importance. One potential avenue that might offer relief is aromatherapy. By understanding how panic attacks impact you both physically and emotionally, you can appreciate the potential benefits of aromatherapy in managing these distressing episodes.

Understanding the Body’s Stress Response and Panic Attacks

Our bodies are equipped with natural mechanisms to handle stress appropriately. However, in some cases this response can get out of control, leading to debilitating panic attacks. Two key players in the stress response system are the vagus nerve and the HPA axis. Understanding how they function can help us manage stress more effectively.

The vagus nerve acts as a communications highway, conveying messages back and forth between the brain and major organs like the heart and gut. Research shows that stimulating the vagus nerve can calm us down by lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Practices like controlled breathing, meditation, and cold water immersion aim to activate the vagus nerve to quell anxiety.

The HPA axis refers to the coordinated effort between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands. When faced with stress, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary to release hormones that notify the adrenal glands to pump out cortisol and adrenaline. This speeds up heart rate and gives us energy to respond to the perceived threat.

For people prone to panic attacks, the HPA axis may be overly sensitive and react to non-threatening events as crises. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, triggering a panic attack’s terrifying physical and psychological symptoms. Finding ways to modulate the HPA axis and vagus nerve response could help prevent panic attacks from spiraling out of control.

Essential Oils Help Relieve Panic Attacks

Our sense of smell is a powerful pathway to influencing emotions and mood. Clinical research shows that inhaling certain essential oils can activate brain areas involved in regulating stress, anxiety, and fear. Using aromatherapy during moments of panic activates the parasympathetic nervous system to prevent the fight-or-flight escalation. Portable inhalers make it easy to breathe in relaxing essential oil blends throughout the day. Aromatherapy taps into the mind-body connection to help relieve overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety during a panic attack.

Imagine essential oils as powerful circuit breakers in your brain, capable of interpreting signals that trigger a sense of danger, urging you to be on high alert. By using essential oils through inhalation, you can essentially reset your brain’s response to stress and anxiety, creating a calmer and more balanced state of being.

Incorporating essential oils into your daily routine might just be the natural and efficient solution you’ve been seeking to promote emotional well-being and achieve a state of tranquility.

Essential Oils for Panic Attacks


Lavandula angustifolia

Lavender essential oil’s fresh, floral, herbaceous aroma is profoundly calming. The scent of lavender oil has been clinically shown to reduce anxiety and emotional stress. Taking a few mindful breaths of lavender’s soothing fragrance can help ground the mind and body, preventing rising panic from developing into a full attack.


Citrus bergamia

Bergamot essential oil has a rich, exotic citrus aroma that is uplifting yet calming. Research shows bergamot oil helps stabilize mood and anxiety by influencing the HPA axis and GABA receptors in the brain. Inhaling bergamot’s fresh, sweet-spicy fragrance can help ease feelings of panic by signaling the body and mind to relax.

Roman Chamomile

Chamaemelum nobile

Roman chamomile oil has a sweet, fruity, apple-like aroma that is intensely calming to the mind and body. Inhaling chamomile’s pleasant scent has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety, tension, and distress. The aroma of chamomile essential oil can help prevent panic attacks by signaling the brain to relax rather than go into fight-or-flight mode when stress hits.


Citrus x aurantium subsp. amara

The sweet, floral aroma of neroli essential oil is remarkably calming to the nervous system. Inhaling neroli’s scent has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety, slow heart rate, and stabilize mood. Applying a few drops of this precious oil during moments of panic can help prevent a full blown attack by signaling the brain and body to relax.

Coriander Seed

Coriandrum sativum

Coriander seed essential oil has sweet aromatic, floral-balsamic with peppery-woody top note that can help soothe feelings of anxiety. Coriander seed contains linalool which has demonstrated sedative and nervous system calming effects.


Citrus reticulata

Mandarin essential oil has a fresh, citrusy aroma known for uplifting and stress-relieving properties. It contains the compound limonene which has demonstrated sedative effects. Inhaling mandarin’s gentle aroma can help interrupt anxious thoughts and panic feelings. The aroma sends signals to the nervous system that promote calmness and relaxation.

Clary sage

Salvia sclarea

Clary sage essential oil has a sweet, nutty aroma with floral, earthy notes that is very relaxing to the nervous system. Research demonstrates clary sage oil helps decrease stress hormones, blood pressure, and breathing rates when inhaled. The calming scent of clary sage can be deeply grounding during moments of panic.

Pause & Breathe Aroma Inhaler

One Personal Inhaler Tube

    • 12 drops Mandarin essential oil
    • 5 drops Clary sage essential oil
    • 8 drops Coriander seed essential oil