According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, between 2–6% of the population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), while another 15% experience a less severe condition often dubbed the winter blues. If you’re among this group of Canadians, your winters are likely just something to survive until spring arrives. People who suffer from SAD experience feelings of: exhaustion, irritability and sleeplessness.
A way to combat SAD is to raise the levels of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that influences the brain’s pleasure-reward circuit. High levels of dopamine are linked to feelings of pleasure, reward and also motivation. People can boost their dopamine levels by making sure they:
- Get proper sleep
- Take vitamins
- Undertake regular light therapy
Another thing that can help banish the winter blues is cannabis. Yes, marijuana can help make your winter feel brighter. And it’s not just anecdotal evidence that says so. Some research studies have shown that marijuana can help SAD sufferers by increasing dopamine in the body.
A 2008 study out of the Netherlands proved tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) “induces dopamine release in the human striatum,” a part of the brain associated with our reward and motivation response.
So, the right marijuana strain may be able to help tackle various symptoms of SAD or the winter blues. If you’re feeling lethargic, unmotivated and generally “blah,” here are five cannabis strains you may want to try this winter.
1. Melt Away Irritability With Cinex
This sativa-dominant favourite among Pacific Northwesters can help you get relaxed in your body and boost your overall happiness. Cinex is an ideal socializing companion for parties or smaller gatherings that’ll get you thinking creatively and actually wanting to contribute to the conversation. Consume before you leave the house to help remind why you want to go to the party before you even arrive.
2. Get Your Morning Started With Green Crack
Need some coaxing to get up and moving in the morning? Green Crack can help.
This invigourating strain offers a strong sativa high that can keep your energy up during any number of daytime activities. Put on an upbeat playlist after a morning consumption session with Green Crack, and you’ll be ready to get going.
3. De-Stress With Super Silver Haze
Known as one of the greatest strains of all time, Super Silver Haze won’t put you in a total haze, but rather, will stimulate focus and energy. When stress adds up, this marijuana strain will help you get out of your head.
Consume Super Silver Haze to help you prepare for the day in the morning, or take it in those lethargic afternoon hours to maintain the will to finish off the day. This sativa-dominant hybrid won’t compromise your mental clarity.
4. Get Through a Long Day With Harlequin
With a ratio of 5:2 parts cannabidiol (CBD) to THC, Harlequin is a favourite among medical marijuana consumers. But it also makes a great ally for those suffering from the winter blues.
This strain will lift mental energy with very mild intoxication, if any, and relax and focus the mind without any sedation. Use it for a boost on those tough-to-get-through days where you can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
5. Start Your Cannabis for SAD Journey With Jack Herer
If this is the first winter where you’re experimenting with cannabis to help with mood, start with Jack Herer. This strain is actually a very popular blend of the marijuana strains:
- Shiva Skunk
- Northern Lights #5
It’ll offer relief from spiralling or gloomy thoughts by imparting a not-too-intense but distinct and well-balanced cerebral effect. Jack Herer is an all-purpose strain, so you can use it to improve any part of any day whether you’re busy at home, socializing or running errands.
Photo credit: Alisa Anton