Background and aims: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered a safe, effective, and significant treatment in patients suffering from a major depressive disorder. Anxiety caused by this invasive treatment may impose several side effects on patients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of aromatherapy with inhaled lavender essential oil and breathing exercises on ECT-related anxiety in depressed patients.

Methods: In this randomized controlled clinical trial, 90 depressed patients were selected and divided into three groups: aromatherapy, breathing exercise, and routine care using a random allocation method. Before undergoing ECT, the aromatherapy group was exposed to the inhaled lavender essential oil (n = 30), the breathing exercise group performed the breathing exercises (n = 30), and the routine care group received routine care (n = 30). Before (20 min) and after the intervention (30 min later), patients' anxiety was assessed using Beck Anxiety Inventory.

Results: After the intervention, the results revealed that anxiety score changes were statistically significant among the three groups (p < 0.001). In addition, it was found that the patients’ mean anxiety scores significantly decreased in the aromatherapy and breathing exercise groups compared to with the pre-intervention scores (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Aromatherapy with inhaled lavender essential oil and breathing exercises can be considered by clinical nurses as simple, applicable, and effective interventions to reduce ECT-related anxiety in depressed patients.

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