In the wide, wide array of symptoms and complexes appearing on medical marijuana treatment lists, depression is often right up there with nausea, muscle spasms, and social anxiety. And, yet, weed is a depressant… right?
Well, yes, it is—but it’s not that simple. While many weed strains do have significantly depressive side effects, some actually pep you up, create warm feelings of happiness, and take the edge off depression’s crushing weight. Used carefully and consciously, marijuana could actually improve your outlook and give you a little relief when you most need it.
Important Note: Sufferers know that depression isn’t just “the blues.” It’s a serious—though treatable—medical condition that can have severe and even fatal consequences. Because of its high risks and complex, unpredictable nature, you should reach out to a physician or licensed therapist before trying any of these strains if you feel you may have depression. Do not try treating it yourself. Pharmaceuticals, therapy, and professional counsel should be your priorities. As well, don’t feel shy about discussing weed with your doctor. If you are on prescriptions, Google them for contraindications.
That said, if you do chose to try these strains in addition to professional help—which will probably be against medical advice—do so carefully, slowly, lightly, and with a plan in case things go south. Lining up trusted loved ones is crucial and, in an emergency, the National Suicide Lifeline is available 24/7, 365 at 1-800-273-8255 and here. Finally, these recommendations are generalized. You may experience different reactions due to your particular brain chemistry and the plant you’re smoking or eating. Also, consult your dealer or legal budtender for advice.
Whew. Okay. Now on to the fun stuff.
As with using pot for treating social anxiety, the much-touted tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels are pretty crucial here—though somewhat in reverse. Cannabidiol (CBD), THC’s stonier, more mellow chemical cousin can have depressive effect (though it does help with stress relief). Thus THC-heavy sativas and balanced hybrids are strains to seek out while CBD-rich indicas are ones to avoid or use cautiously.
Leafly—a pothead’s go-to for so many reasons—not only has more details about what makes a strain good or bad for depression, but offers many solid recommendations. Those picks combined with our own create a strong list of commonly available strains to try.
AK-47: Sold almost everywhere, this sativa-heavy hybrid both relaxes and energizes. It offers one of the friendlier and, if used lightly, conversational highs out there. Smells great, too.
Jack Herer: Leafly not only praises this sativa for its euphoric properties, but its, “high levels of limonene and pinene, terpenes that boost mood and focus respectively.” It’s also a good pain reliever and, as chronic sufferers know, depression can come with a lot of physical pain.
Lemon Kush: Up, up and away. This is a prime mood booster and quite common in both the black and white markets. Depression sufferers with mood swings or mania, however, should probably use this sativa lightly or not at all.
Granddaddy Purple: An indica noted for offering stress relief and easy sleep, it’s a solid option for restless, sad nights. Again, though, it’s an indica, so it’s best to apply this purely medicinally as opposed to recreationally.
White Widow: You’ve probably seen this hybrid on a dispensary shelf or in your dealer’s messenger bag. And with good reason, too. The popular strain is strong, but uplifting, sharp, and energizing. Those with a history of paranoia should use very carefully.
Cannatonic: Though it’s somewhat rare in the illegal market, it’s worth mentioning Cannatonic’s balanced attack of mood boosting, warm body sensations, stress relief, and an even, uplifting high. Check the dispensary.
Pineapple Express: Again, not one for those suffering from manic depression, but a good option for those with severe lows, Pineapple Express offers a lot of happiness and surprising bursts of energy. Those with tendencies toward panic attacks should be aware of this famous hybrid’s rather quick onset, though.
Sour Diesel: One of the most popular and common sativas out there, Sour Diesel has a reputation for amping you up and lifting stress. Individual crops can be pretty darn strong, though, so a little goes a long way (and saves money).