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Finding Relief: The Best Cannabis Strains for Depression

For people living with depression, finding long-term recovery (or even short-term symptom relief) can be a lengthy, challenging process fraught with trial and error. And when patients feel like they’re out of conventional options, they often turn away from the Western medicine model to experiment with holistic solutions—like medical weed for anxiety and depression.

While it can be difficult to say which strains will work best for your individual experience with depression, there are a few anecdotal trends that can help guide patients: indica strains generally promote relaxation and calm; sativa strains promote energy and creative thinking; hybrid strains offer the best of both; and CBD-heavy strains can help support depression relief without intoxication.

Let’s break down the process of choosing the right strain for your depression treatment and recovery.

Strains 101

If you’re new to the world of medical cannabis, you might not know how to navigate product selection. What is a strain, and what should you know about different strains before you head to a dispensary?

  • strain is a subtype of the Cannabis sativa plant.
  • Each strain features a unique combination of compounds like cannabinoidsterpenes, and flavonoids, and these combinations produce unique effects for users.
  • There are hundreds of strains, and each one is carefully cultivated by expert marijuana growers to produce its signature chemical composition.

When you purchase a medical marijuana product from a dispensary, there are two key details to look for on product packaging related to strains:

  • The name: Each strain has a name—Sour Diesel, Northern Lights, and Girl Scout Cookie are just a few examples.
  • The cannabinoid profile: Each strain features a unique combination of cannabinoids, and these will be marked on each product in percentages. Sour Diesel, for instance, typically contains 20–24% THC and less than 1% CBD.

Strains are generally divided into three categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid.

Indica

Anecdotally, patients generally report that indica strains make them feel:

 

  • Relaxed
  • Drowsy or sleepy
  • Dulled senses (an important effect for people looking for pain relief)
  • Hungry and thirsty

One of the reasons why patients turn to CBD and THC for anxiety and depression is because these mental health conditions are often comorbid (i.e., they occur at the same time). So, many people living with depression and anxiety discover ample relief when they incorporate relaxing indica strains into their routine.

In addition, depression can manifest with symptoms like:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Chronic fatigue, pain, and muscle soreness
  • Irregular eating patterns and appetite

If you experience any of these symptoms, indica strains could be a useful tool on your healing journey.

Sativa

Sativa strains, on the other hand, generally produce feelings like:

  • Creativity and complex thought
  • Curiosity, intense interest, or engagement (with an activity, for instance)
  • Elevated mood or heightened awareness
  • Talkativeness or expressiveness

If you’re experiencing a depressive episode, these sensations might look like the complete opposite of your disposition. That’s why so many people living with depression often turn to sativa strains first.

Hybrid

As their name suggests, hybrid strains offer the best of both indica and sativa. While hybrid strains can vary widely (and everyone responds to cannabis differently), hybrid users can generally experience combinations of the following effects:

  • Mellowness and relaxation
  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Elevated mood
  • Drowsiness
  • Introspectiveness

Hybrid strains can be cultivated to balance indica and sativa compounds equally or unequally; in other words, hybrids can be either sativa- or indica-heavy, or they can offer a mostly even split of both strains.

Medical Marijuana for Depression: Choosing a Strain

With all of this in mind, how can you choose a strain for your specific presentation of depression symptoms? Let’s break down a simple (though sometimes time-consuming) process for finding your ideal strain for depression.

Step 1: Define Your Symptoms

The first step is to define what depression looks like in your life. If you’ve worked with a psychiatrist or mental health counselor before, you might already have a clear picture of your symptoms. But try to get as specific as possible as you explore how depression manifests in your life.

Ask yourself some guiding questions, like:

 

  • What do my sleep schedule and sleep quality look like?
  • Do I have hobbies, and do I actively keep up with them?
  • What do my friendships and relationships look like?
  • Do I have a consistent routine for eating, sleeping, bathing, and self-care?
  • Am I generally motivated to do things, or does it take significant effort for me to be engaged?

Depression looks different for everyone, and some elements of your lifestyle might already be optimal: perhaps you’re hitting the gym every day, you eat well, and you have a healthy social life, but hopelessness lingers just beneath the surface of every activity. Digging deep to identify your symptoms can help you have an honest conversation with your healthcare provider in the next step.

Step 2: Consult with a Professional

With a clear self-assessment of your symptoms in hand, it’s time to approach two key professionals for expert advice:

  1. A medical marijuana doctor: A medical cannabis provider is qualified to give you a recommendation for medical cannabis. They can help you determine if you meet your state’s criteria for medical marijuana, talk through dosing and lifestyle suggestions, and answer any questions you have about cannabis.
  2. A budtender: A budtender is an expert working behind the counter at your pharmacy or dispensary. These professionals are intimately familiar with the products available in your local market and how users respond to them.

Both of these professionals can help you choose your first strains to try on your depression recovery journey.

Step 3: Experiment and Log Your Results

As you try out various strains of medical cannabis, think of your early treatment process as an experimentation phase:

  • Test in controlled settings: Intentionality is key in medical cannabis treatment. When it’s time to dose, try to curate a calm, quiet environment that will support your treatment goals, whatever they may be.
  • Document everything: Writing down your thoughts and physical responses in a journal, recording your thoughts aloud, or taking videos of yourself to review later can all help you collect valuable data.
  • Repeat if you can: If you have a so-so experience with a certain strain, consider trying it again on another day. Collecting multiple data points will help you identify trends and get the full picture of how you respond to a specific strain.

Step 4: Tweak Your Treatment to Build a Consistent Routine

Whether you find your ideal strain right away or you have to try a few different products, making small tweaks and adjustments to your treatment to curate a productive routine is a very normal part of the process. That might look like:

  • Changing administration methods: If you tried smokables for your first experiment, see if you respond to the same strain differently in a different form: edibles, tinctures, or oils, for instance.
  • Adjusting your dose: Increasing or decreasing your dose might help you produce more controlled or consistent responses.
  • Combining products: Your budtender and medical cannabis doctor can help you combine products to highly customize your results, but this is an advanced approach.

When it comes to recovering from depression, consistency is key. Once you have honed in on an ideal treatment regimen, do your best to stick to it.

Strains for People Living with Depression

There are hundreds of strains on the market. Here’s just a taste of the strains that people living with depression might find relaxing, engaging, or supportive of their healing journeys:

  • Granddaddy Purple: An indica strain, “GDP” often features between 17 and 27% THC and a low percentage of CBD. It’s a highly relaxing strain—people who also struggle with anxiety might enjoy its mellowing effects.
  • Tangie: Tangie is a sativa strain hovering around 20% THC and less than 1% CBD. Users report that it’s particularly useful for social stimulation.
  • Blue Dream: A favorite among hybrid devotees, Blue Dream often induces a happy-go-lucky effect without overstimulating users. With 18% THC and low CBD, it’s an excellent choice for patients looking for a happy medium.
  • Harle-Tsu: A hybrid of CBD-heavy strains Harlequin and Tsunami, Harle-Tsu has a negligible amount of THC and around 22% CBD, offering users a calming, focused effect without intoxication.

Unlock Depression Recovery with Support from TeleLeaf

While finding the ideal marijuana strain for depression relief and recovery can take time, it’s an excellent option for patients looking for an alternative to Western treatments like pharmaceuticals. And, when you’re looking for a supportive medical cannabis provider, turn to TeleLeaf.

The TeleLeaf team is passionate about connecting patients to all-natural, holistic, and safe treatment methods because we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to heal with plant-based medicine.

When you’re ready to explore medical marijuana options on your journey, reach out to us to schedule an appointment.


Sources: 

Healthline. Cannabis 101: A Guide to Indica Strains.
https://www.healthline.com/health/indica-strains

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