According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. In addition, roughly 8% of adults will experience clinical depression in their lifetime. Clinical, or major, depression is typically a result of a number of factors that can include stress, family history, personality and imbalances in brain chemistry.
The four major types of depression are:
- Seasonal affective disorder, which tends to come on during the cold, dark winter months.
- Postpartum depression, which affects up to 10% of women following childbirth.
- Depression with psychosis—hallucinations or delusions play a role in this type of severe depression.
- Dysthymia—though symptoms are moderate, this type of depression is chronic.
Can Marijuana Help Ease the Symptoms of Depression?
Cannabis can help reduce or relieve certain symptoms of depression. Because marijuana helps support and stimulate the body's endocannabinoid system, it can help those experiencing depression by making up for a lack of endocannabinoids. It's in fact an endocannabinoid deficiency that's thought to play a role in mood disorders. As such, marijuana consumption can positively affect mood as well as help with productivity and improve sleep patterns in depressed individuals.
According to a 2007 study by McGill University in Montreal, Canada, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can act as an anti-depressant. The study lead, Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, initiated this research after she’d heard anecdotal evidence that cannabis could help reduce depressive symptoms.
“As a psychiatrist, I noticed that several of my patients suffering from depression used to smoke cannabis," she said. "And in the scientific literature, we had some evidence that people treated with cannabis for multiple sclerosis or AIDS showed a big improvement in mood disorders. But there were no laboratory studies demonstrating the anti-depressant mechanism of action of cannabis.”
Using a simulated rat model with a synthetic form of THC, researchers found that low doses of the cannabinoid stimulated the production of serotonin, which helps reduce depression naturally. Researchers concluded that medical marijuana could help reduce people's need for anti-depressants. However, the study also found that higher doses of cannabis could adversely affect and worsen depression symptoms.
Meanwhile, the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands also found that THC could reduce a person’s adverse response to negative images or emotions. The findings support the hypothesis that the endocannabinoid system is involved in managing emotional processing—and that THC may help in the treatment of major depression.
Limonene & Linalool Help Relieve Depression
Some terpenes found in cannabis can also help alleviate symptoms of depression. Terpenes, which are also found in many plants other than cannabis, are responsible for giving different strains of cannabis their odor and flavour. Researchers have identified over 100 terpenes across all of the varieties of cannabis, though some are more prevalent than others. Limonene, which is the second most common terpene found in cannabis, is known for its citrus scent and flavour.
Limonene is believed to relieve both depression and anxiety. The lemony terpene can also help stimulate the immune system, clear up gastrointestinal issues, and fight tumours as well as infections. Meanwhile, preliminary evidence points to linalool’s ability to help with mental conditions. Linalool, which is a terpene known for its floral aroma, and is also found in mint and cinnamon, can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Choosing the Right Marijuana Strain for Depression
Finding the right cannabis strain for your depression will involve trial and error to figure out what will work best for your particular biochemistry, endocannabinoid system and situation. Sativa strains tend to be uplifting; this characteristic is something folks with depression may find helpful.
That said, sometimes you may only find relief by consuming multiple strains, depending on the time of day or type of symptoms you’re experiencing. Dosage is also an important consideration. It’s important to start with a low dose and take plenty of time between doses to see if the amount you’ve taken is effective. Remember that a too-potent dose could cause a negative reaction. With all of this in mind, take a look at our list of top marijuana strains for depression.
AK-47 is a sativa-dominant hybrid cannabis strain that’s known for its long-lasting mellow effects. With 14–20% THC, it’s known to help ease depression, stress and anxiety. AK-47 can provide cerebral stimulation and keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
2. Blue Dream
Blue Dream is a sativa-dominant hybrid that contains roughly 17–24% THC. It’s touted as a tension and stress reliever even as it produces uplifting effects. Blue Dream also contains the terpenes linalool and limonene, both of which help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Blue Dream is also known to provide mental alertness and pain relief.
3. Amnesia Haze
Amnesia Haze is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain that individuals reach for because of its uplifting and energetic effects. The strain, which contains 20–22% THC and less than 1% cannabidiol (CBD), is touted to reduce stress and clear the mind. Amnesia Haze has a citrusy scent, due to the presence of limonene, which also helps boost mood. The strain also helps fight fatigue, migraines and pain in general.
4. Jilly Bean
Jilly Bean is known to create an uplifting and positive mood. This sativa-dominant hybrid is often recommended for daytime use because of its energizing effects. Jilly Bean, which has about 18% THC, can also help improve mental focus and promote creativity. It’s also known for its floral aromas, due to the terpene linalool. Jilly Bean and linalool are believed to work in concert to ease symptoms of depression.
5. Lemon Haze
Lemon Haze has a THC content that’s between 15–20% and a CBD content below 1%. This sativa-dominant hybrid strain produces uplifting, euphoric effects. Lemon Haze has a prominent lemon flavour and smell, due to the presence of limonene. Limonene’s uplifting attributes in conjunction with Lemon Haze’s stress-reducing and energetic effects makes this cannabis strain a good choice for individuals suffering from depression.
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