7 of the Best Cannabis Strains for Depression
If you use cannabis to address depression, it’s very important to choose the right strain. Some strains may help by providing a lift in mood whereas others help to reduce the symptoms of depression-aggravating issues like chronic pain and insomnia. While the evidence isn't yet strong enough for the clinical community to recommend cannabis for depression, anecdotal evidence and preliminary research are encouraging.
If you decide to try cannabis for mild depression symptoms, please keep in mind that everyone responds differently due to their unique chemical makeup. The aroma and effects of different strains can also vary from one grower to the next. If you are suffering from moderate or severe depression or have a psychiatric disorder, please seek professional advice.
Top CBD Strains for Depression
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that acts on the serotonin receptors in the brain to boost the levels of "feel-good" hormones in your body. The CBD strains we describe here have high levels of cannabidiol and relatively low levels of THC, making them ideal for patients who also suffer from anxiety or who aren’t looking to get high.
Primary terpenes: Myrcene and pinene
Fragrance and flavor: Earthy and woody
Effects: Thanks to its particular blend of terpenes and cannabinoids, this high-CBD strain is both relaxing and energizing, allowing patients to focus and stay awake when consumed during the day. In large doses, some people experience anxiety and headaches alongside the usual dry mouth, while low doses may reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Primary terpenes: Limonene and pinene
Fragrance and flavor: Herbs and spices
Effects: Harlequin is described as having uplifting and energizing effects that still leave you feeling clear-headed. This strain is also popular with patients who have conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
3. Harlequin GDP
Primary terpenes: Myrcene, caryophyllene, humulene
Fragrance and flavor: Grape, musk, and berries
Effects: Thought to be a cross between Harlequinand Granddaddy Purple, Harlequin GDP is more relaxing than most sativa strains and is sometimes described as leaving the consumer with a happy feeling. This is an ideal strain for patients who are new to marijuana or who want to avoid strong anxiety-inducing effects.
THC-Dominant Strains for Depression
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), when present with CBD, appears to provide short-term relief from pain. THC also seems to help with post-traumatic stress disorder by reducing activity in the amygdala—both of which may help with depression that stems from chronic pain or PTSD. THC also produces euphoric effects associated with being "high," which could help when you're feeling down.
Please note: While small amounts of THC may reduce anxiety, large amounts of THC can cause anxiety, so people who suffer from anxiety may prefer to go with high-CBD strains for depression or consume these strains in very small amounts.
4. Blue Dream
Primary terpenes: Linalool and limonene
Fragrance and flavor: Sweet berries
Effects: This popular sativa-dominant strain is described as uplifting, soothing, and energizing. It is said to calm symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety for many people. Expect to feel mentally alert with a boost in creativity.
Primary terpenes: Limonene
Fragrance and flavor: Sweet, citrus, spices, and pine
Effects: Cinex is described as providing an uplifting boost in mood, creativity, and focus. Dry eyes and paranoia are sometimes experienced with this strain, so start off small if you’re anxiety-prone.
6. Cherry Punch
Primary terpenes: Myrcene, humulene, linalool, caryophyllene
Fragrance and flavor: Cherry, vanilla, skunk
Effects: Cherry Punch is an evenly balanced hybrid strain that's said to help people feel cheerful, comfortable, and relaxed while soothing pain, anxiety, depression, and irritability. This strain is said to leave consumers feeling euphoric and unfocused, so it’s best to try it when there’s nothing you urgently need to do.
7. Jack Herer
Primary terpenes: Caryophyllene and pinene
Flavor and fragrance: Earthy, Pine
Effects: This energizing sativa is said to invigorate and energize with the uplifting terpenes caryophyllene and pinene. Scents of chopped firewood and pine forests accompany feelings of comfort and improved mood.
What the Research Says about Cannabis and Depression
It's well known that cannabis can help you feel good (otherwise it wouldn't be used recreationally). However, it has been hard for researchers to draw any definitive conclusions about cannabis as a treatment for mental health issues like depression, even though the depression-cannabis link has been studied for several decades. The reasons for this are complex:
Depression is often present with other mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD.
Where depression and cannabis dependence appear together, it’s often unclear which occurred first.
The dosage of THC has a large impact on marijuana's effects on mood. Low doses of cannabis appear to help with depression while large doses appear to exacerbate it.
Researchers need to consider both the short-term and long-term impact of consuming marijuana on mental health symptoms, including clinical depression.
People with moderate to severe depression could be more than twice as likely as those with mild depression to abuse cannabis, according to a population study of the community of Fort McMurray (Canada), published in 2022.
The antidepressant effects of both CBD and THC have mostly been observed in animal studies and large-scale clinical trials are still needed.
While studies remain inconclusive, many people do report an improvement in their symptoms with cannabis consumption, especially in the short term.
In an observational trial published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in 2021, the study subjects who consumed medical cannabis reported less depression, better sleep, less pain on average, and a better quality of life.
In a symptom-tracking study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2012, cannabis smokers who used the Strainprint™ app perceived a 50% improvement in depression symptoms and a 58% improvement in stress and anxiety symptoms after smoking cannabis in the short term.
The Importance of Professional Guidance
If you are interested in trying any of the marijuana strains on our list, be sure to consult with a doctor first to see if marijuana has any interactions with medications you're currently taking or might be contraindicated due to individual risks.
Furthermore, individuals with a comorbid condition like PTSD or chronic pain may also qualify for a medical marijuana card, which provides access to more affordable and more potent cannabis. During your in-person or telemedicine MMJ appointment, you can ask the doctor about potential drug interactions and the strains and delivery methods that he or she would recommend. If you live in the Phoenix area or anywhere in Arizona, the Green Leaf team is here to help.
Cannabis Together with Professional Therapies May Provide a Viable Solution
Ultimately, the effects of each cannabis strain and the therapies that will be the most effective for relieving depression are highly individual.
Before trying marijuana for mood problems, it's best to see a doctor who has extensive experience with cannabis-based therapies and undergo an evaluation with a mental health professional who can identify the possible causes and provide guidance in your journey toward a happier and more fulfilling life.