Best Marijuana Strains for Depression

Last Updated on May 24, 2022 by Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

Depression is one of the most common reasons people use marijuana. For many individuals, marijuana promotes an elevated sense of engagement and motivation that helps combat feelings of low mood. It can stimulate conversations with friends and spark interest in hobbies. But does marijuana really help depression and what is best marijuana strains for depression.

Is Marijuana Good for Depression?

Depression is a complex and multi-dimensional mood disorder. It impacts each person in a different way and to a different extent. Likewise, marijuana is a complex plant with a range of effects that are felt to varying degrees by different people. It’s these complexities that have made it difficult for researchers to decipher the relationship between marijuana and depression.

Some research indicates that just a single puff of marijuana can temporarily ease depressive symptoms, and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence from cannabis users to support these results. However, other studies warn that long-term use can exacerbate depression and lead to other mental health issues down the line. These findings should be an important consideration when deciding whether marijuana is a safe option for you. We highly recommend speaking with a medical professional to discuss how marijuana may interfere with your current condition, medications, and treatments.

Indica or Sativa for Depression

Historically, marijuana dispensaries have categorized strains into three distinct groups: indica, sativa, and hybrid. As a result, most consumers use these common classifications as a guideline for predicting effects.

  • Indica strains are known as “downers” and are said to deliver calming, full-body effects, including muscle relaxation and physical sedation.
  • Sativa strains are known as “uppers” and are thought to deliver an invigorating cerebral high, with uplifting effects, such as increased focus, motivation, and creativity.
  • Hybrids are said to fall somewhere in between, offering a mix of both indica and sativa effects.

While the above distinctions are convenient, especially for those who are new to cannabis, no scientific evidence exists to validate these broad recommendations. Scientists have carefully examined the chemical profile of indica and sativa strains and found no discernible patterns to explain that one would be inherently sedating and the other naturally uplifting. What this means is that not all sativas will energize you, and not all indicas will sedate you. The only way to accurately predict the effects of any given strain is to know its precise chemical profile, but even this has limitations.

THC or CBD for Depression

The best way to choose a strain for depression is to speak with a qualified medicinal marijuana doctor. However, it can also help to understand the chemicals, including cannabinoids and terpenes, that make up each strain.

The two most well-known chemicals in marijuana are CBD and THC, although these are just two of over 100 unique cannabinoids. Cannabinoids interact with receptors located throughout the human body and are responsible for the effects of any given strain.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid, which is responsible for producing the euphoric “high” commonly associated with marijuana. Many people who use marijuana to alleviate their depression tend to prefer high-THC strains as this cannabinoid stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin (two neurotransmitters associated with feelings of pleasure). Similar to antidepressant medications, THC creates feelings of motivation and happiness that help temporarily counteract feelings of depression. However, it’s essential to understand that heavy use can blunt the dopamine system, especially with long-term abuse. This means that dopamine production could decline, potentially exacerbating mood disturbances and mental health issues.

A high concentration of THC can also cause adverse short-term side effects, including acute anxiety, panic attack, and psychosis. For this reason, many physicians don’t recommend high THC medical marijuana to patients with anxiety.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that, according to current research, does not cause a euphoric “high” but instead plays a neuroprotective factor. It’s currently under investigation as a potential treatment for a variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Preclinical studies using animal models show that CBD has antidepressant-like effects. However, the mechanism remains unclear. Some research indicates that CBD regulates the central nervous system through 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, potentially representing a novel and fast-acting antidepressant medication.

Marijuana, like many other plants, also contains dozens of different terpenes. These naturally occurring chemicals are responsible for each strain’s unique aroma and flavor, although they also play a synergistic role in amplifying the effects of cannabinoids. For example, the terpene myrcene smells a lot like–you guessed–pine needles. Although it’s got more to offer than a refreshing fragrance, it may also play a role in relieving anxiety and pain.

Best Marijuana Strains for Depression

While the jury is still out on whether marijuana is a safe long-term treatment for depression, there are some marijuana strains with a chemical profile that is better suited for alleviating symptoms of depression.


Cannabinoid Profile: THC Dominant

Primary Terpenes: limonene, pinene, caryophyllene

With an uplifting citrus scent and a peppery kick, Cinex is the perfect strain for cultivating positive energy and stimulating a creative mindset. It’s best taken at the start of the day when the increased sense of energy and focus can be fully harnessed, although patients with a tendency for anxiety should be aware that Cinex contains up to 25% THC.

Cinex is rich in limonene, a zesty terpene also found in oranges and lemon rind that’s believed to elevate mood and provide relief from anxiety. Limonene is currently attracting attention as research shows that it naturally increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, just like antidepressant medications. Lemon Haze is another cannabis strain high in limonene, but with a slightly lower THC content hovering around 15% to 20%.

Jack Herer

Cannabinoid Profile: THC-Dominant

Primary terpenes: pinene, terpinolene, caryophyllene

With an aroma of sharp pine and freshly cut wood, Jack Herer is a popular morning pick-me-up on low days. It’s said to deliver an energetic cerebral rush, which leaves users feeling happy, uplifted, and focused for the day ahead.

While the exact genetics are kept secret, those in the know believe Jack Here is a combination of two high-THC strains: Shiva Skunk and Northern Lights #5. Seemingly, Jack Herer strains contain between 15% and 24% THC according to laboratory tests conducted by Analytical 360. Patients who choose Jake Here will also benefit from the uplifting effects of terpinolene, which provides a fresh aroma with lingering hints of cumin and nutmeg.

Granddaddy Purple

Cannabinoid Profile: THC-Dominant

Primary Terpenes: pinene, limonene, caryophyllene, myrcene

Granddaddy Purple, or GDP, is a legendary THC-dominant strain that’s been calming minds and stimulating appetites throughout California since 2003. Bred from Purple Urkle and Big Bud, this well-known staple has a sweet berry aroma and flowers that bloom in deep and dark shades of purple.

GDP is a perfect nightcap with up to 23% THC and a heavy dose of relaxing myrcene. Its palpable physical and mental effects are felt almost immediately, delivering a profoundly calming sensation with a simultaneous full-body relaxation that lulls the mind and body into a restful sleep. If your depressive symptoms are related to chronic pain or insomnia, you will benefit from this medicinal combination.


Cannabinoid Profile: CBD-dominant

Primary Terpenes: Pinene, myrcene, caryophyllene

With a standard THC to CBD ratio of 2:5, Harlequin is a CBD-dominant strain that’s highly sought after for its medicinal benefits, particularly for depression, anxiety, and pain. Based on lab tests by Analytics 360, Harlequin strains contain between 4-10% THC and 6-15% CBD. Due to this high CBD concentration, Harlequin delivers a sense of happiness and relation without the THC-induced psychoactive high.

If you suffer from anxiety, in addition to depression, opting for a CBD-dominant, like Harlequin, may help clear your mind without the risk of paranoia.

Charlotte’s Web

Cannabinoid Profile: CBD-dominant

Primary Terpenes: Pinene, myrcene, caryophyllene

Charlotte’s Web has quickly become one of the best strains for depression and is another excellent option for individuals who are prone to THC-induced paranoia. It was derived from industrial hemp by the Stanley Brothers in 2006 specifically for Charlotte Fig, a young patient with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Prior to treatment, Charlotte was experiencing 300 seizures a month. But, since using Charlotte’s Web, her seizures have decreased to 4 per month. When this life-changing story was publicized on CNN, it sparked significant public intrigue. Now, many patients use Charlotte’s Web to gain relief from other debilitating symptoms ranging from headaches to depression.

It contains between 15% and 20% CBD and a negligible amount of THC (0.3%). For this reason, Charlotte’s Web has no psychoactive effects, making it a highly popular medicinal strain for those that are sensitive to THC.

Choosing the Right Strain

Finding the right strain for your depression is a process of discovery. Depression is a complex condition, and marijuana is a complex plant. For that reason, you may need to try several different strains until you find the right combination.

Dosage is also extremely important. It’s recommended that you start with a low dose and only increase under the guidance of a professional to prevent any adverse reactions. If you’re new to cannabis, THC Physicians can help use medical marijuana safely and legally with a medical marijuana card.

THC physicians are here to help people in New York and Florida receive the medical treatment they need. If you have any questions about getting a marijuana card, please browse our how-to page for more information or contact us if there is anything we can answer for you!

Howard Seth Meiselman, DO

Medically reviewed by Howard Seth Meiselman, DO — Written by Mark Conklin 

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Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

Mark Conklin is the founder and CEO of Tierra Healthcare Concepts and is also part of the medical team. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field working at the executive management level and as a medical professional. Education RN, BS Biology, and Master of Health Administration course curriculum.

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