Sativa strains and strains with high CBD levels can help boost your mood.
Using marijuana to treat or self-medicate depression is common. But are some strains better than others?
While many people just use whatever they can get their hands on, the reality is that different strains can have very different effects.
Marijuana strains can vary in terms of strain type (indica or sativa), cannabinoid content, and terpene content. In this article, we discuss what to look for in a marijuana strain for treating depression.
High CBD Strains for Depression
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana known for its many health benefits. Among these benefits is its ability to reduce depression.
For example, a 2016 study found that CBD could act as an antidepressant in rats.
High-CBD strains tend to be popular recommendations for people with depression. For example, Harlequin is a high-CBD strain with a 5:2 ratio of CBD to THC. Many people report this strain to be beneficial for depression.
One good reason to include a hefty dose of CBD into your treatment regimen is that it may help treat and prevent other mental illnesses and symptoms, as well.
THC can cause anxiety, paranoia, and in some cases psychosis in some users. CBD seems to protect from the negative side effects of THC, while allowing the user to benefit from THC as well.
However, some people do not tolerate the psychoactive nature of THC, period. For these people, CBD-only strains or products are a great option.
CBD is also helpful for many types of anxiety. Since depression and anxiety disorders commonly occur in the same patients, this compound may be able to do double duty and help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
High THC Strains for Depression
THC is the main active compound in marijuana known for inducing a euphoric high. While THC can get a bad rap for psychiatric side effects, some research shows that THC can benefit those with depression.
A 2010 study found that THC could act as an antidepressant in mice. A 2012 study found that long-term treatment with THC increased BDNF — a brain protein that is lower than normal in people with depression. This increase in BDNF by THC resulted in antidepressant effects.
Many people report that high-THC strains help with their symptoms of depression. THC causes euphoria, which can counteract feelings of hopelessness, low mood, or sadness often experienced with depression.
It can also help induce sleep, which can be helpful for those experiencing insomnia, a common complaint for depression sufferers.
However, it’s important to be cautious when medicating mental health problems with THC. THC can lead to mental health side effects such as paranoia, anxiety, and in rare cases, psychosis.
Since people with depression are more vulnerable to these side effects, it’s important to get the dose right and consider combining THC with CBD to reduce these effects.
Sativa Strains for Depression
When it comes to indica and sativa strains, strains called sativa tend to have euphoric and mind-altering effects, while strains called indica are often described as sedative and relaxing with a body-buzz.
The reason for this is that some indicas are heavy in the terpene myrcene, which is responsible for “flipping” the normally energetic THC high into a couch-lock effect.
Sativa strains are often described as cerebral, uplifting, and energetic. This is why many people recommend them for depression.
Based on their effects, sativa strains may be helpful for addressing the following symptoms of depression:
- Low mood or sadness
- Low motivation
- Guilt and feelings of hopelessness
Indica Strains for Depression
While some people believe indica strains are too sedating to be used in depression, they may actually complement sativas and address different symptoms.
Indica strains have a relaxing, couch-lock effect caused by the combination of THC and myrcene.
It’s recommended to use indica-dominant strains at night, in order to minimize any side effects of excessive sedation.
Based on their effects, indica strains may be helpful for addressing the following symptoms of depression:
Terpenes for Depression
In recent years, scientists have started to grasp the profound effects of terpenes on the marijuana experience. Terpenes are thought to play a role in the entourage or synergistic effect — the combined effect of all the compounds in marijuana.
While more remains to be discovered, some of these synergies have been linked to marijuana’s effect on depression.
Limonene is a lemony scent that’s often found in — you guessed it — lemons. It’s also found in some strains of marijuana, and it’s probably the reason behind strain names like Lemon Kush.
A 2016 study found that people who found the odor of limonene to be pleasant experienced an elevated mood after smelling it. Aromatherapy could very well play a role in why marijuana helps some people with depression.
Other terpenes found in marijuana are also thought to have antidepressant effects.
Research on terpenes, marijuana and depression is in its infancy. However, it’s clear that terpenes as a group have potential when it comes to depression treatment. This is why many people advocate for the benefits of “whole plant medicine”, and depression is no exception.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to using marijuana to treat depression, it’s important to keep cannabinoid content, terpene content, and strain types in mind.
People who suffer from multiple mental health issues may prefer CBD-heavy strains for depression, because CBD can help reduce the psychiatric side effects of marijuana and treat depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
THC is also thought to be helpful for depression because it helps the user feel more euphoric and positive.
Both indica and sativa strains have benefits for depression, but most users prefer to use sativas during the day for mood elevation and motivation, and indicas at night for insomnia relief and relaxation.
Terpenes in marijuana have shown potential as mood-lifting and antidepressant agents. While specific recommendations are often hard to track down, research suggests it may be a good idea to seek out a whole plant medicine for depression rather than an isolate.