If you are struggling with depression, chances are you want to find out whether certain cannabis strains can help relieve symptoms. Regular antidepressant medication works to a certain extent for some. Nonetheless, many people facing depression consider their side-effects a serious drawback. That explains why increasingly, researchers and patients are looking towards weed as (additional) treatment for depression. If you are dealing with symptoms of depression, you are certainly not alone. Worldwide, some 350 million (!) people struggle with similar issues. This mood disorder is the main cause of long-term work disability. Perhaps cannabis can help counter this condition and its consequences. Read on to find out more, and to see which Amsterdam Genetics strains are our best options for tackling depression.
Why Cannabis May Help With Depression
Understanding why cannabis could help with depression requires some basic knowledge of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system, part of the anatomy of most advanced animal species, was discovered only recently. Nonetheless, it has a vital function: the ECS keeps the myriad processes running within your body balanced. To do so, it uses cannabinoids which it produces itself. These are known as endocannabinoids. However, plant-based cannabinoids called phytocannabinoids, which are produced by cannabis plants, can also cooperate with the ECS.
These cannabinoids can affect receptors, allowing them to relay signals to nerve cells. That allows them to influence a wide range of physiological processes, including rhythms of sleep and waking, emotions, memory, digestion, and your immune system. These properties allow people to use cannabis to influence the symptoms of depression, too.
Depression, Coronavirus Lockdowns, And Cannabis
After lockdowns were enforced in various countries over 2020 and into 2021, mental health trends showed some alarming trends. Some researchers and clinicians claim they see more people struggling with depression in these COVID-19 times. Loneliness, lack of perspective, and social isolation can trigger or worsen depression. Young adults seem particularly vulnerable. Alarmingly, it seems some of those affected are turning to narcotics, alcohol, or other drugs to fight off their problems. This is a decidedly negative trend, and we strongly warn against going down this road.
Even though cannabis is among the less harmful substances used in this way, we still warn against it. No matter the potential benefits of using cannabis against depression; simply ‘smoking away’ the cause of the problem will not solve the problem itself. Cannabis – or other substances for that matter – may make you ‘forget’ about your worries for a short while. Next morning, however, you’ll find your problems haven’t magically vanished. The only responsible way to try cannabis for depression is to use it wisely and in moderation. Try to improve your mood and work from there; never try to bury your problems in a cloud of weed smoke – it won’t work.
Research Into Cannabis And Depression
The full extent to which weed can help against depression is still unclear. Research is still in its early stages. One hypothesis is that cannabis can restore regular production of endocannabinoids, which could help stabilize your mood. Scientists at the University of Buffalo are studying the potential of cannabis against depression caused by stress. Their main focus is cannabinoids.
Their research predominantly addresses animal subject rather than humans. The study shows that stress suppresses production of endocannabinoids in the brain. This can cause depressive behaviour. Administering cannabis enables restoration of endocannabinoid levels and reduction of depression symptoms.
What Are The Benefits Of Cannabis For Depression?
One of the main benefits of cannabis with respect to depression is its potential for short-term relief. A study conducted at the University of New Mexico, published in June 2020 in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, demonstrates that cannabis can reduce depression symptoms in a majority of human participants. Interestingly, the extent to which symptoms decrease and the experienced side-effects vary between different strains of weed.
The study involved data provided by 1,819 participants. They registered their experiences using the Releaf App. Users indicated that they noticed improvement of symptoms by nearly 4 points on a scale ranging from 0 to 10. These result were experienced immediately after using fried, natural cannabis flower.
These are striking results; especially when compared with conventional antidepressants. Such medication (usually tricyclic antidepressants or serotonin reuptake inhibitors) take quite a while to produce noticeable effects; sometimes weeks or months. Finding the proper medication and the right dosage can be a time-consuming process as well.
Moreover, the side-effects of regular medication can be a serious drawback. People may suffer from numbness, agitation, anxiety, lack of motivation, and even suicidal tendencies.
The studies indicate that strains with high THC content yield particularly promising results. Such strains provide the quickest relief when it comes to the intensity of depressed feelings. Differences in effectiveness and rapid onset of cannabis effects depend not only on THC, CBD, but also on other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Apparently, the entourage effect by which different cannabis compounds reinforce each other’s effect play a part.
Potential Downsides Of Cannabis For Depression
Even though cannabis certainly shows potential as a possible treatment for depression, not all users experience positive effects. One in five people who used high-THC strains reported having a negative experience. One of those experiences involves intensification of depressed feelings, including the perceived lack of motivation. The report did note, however, that participants were three times as likely to notice positive effects than negative ones, including increased optimism, cheerfulness, and relaxation.
This means that a word of warning is in place here: cannabis is no miracle cure for depression. If only it were so simple! As most experienced cannabis consumers know, the effects of weed can strengthen your current mood. A cheerful mood can get lifted further, whereas negative moods can start feeling more negative. This effect depends on many personal factors.
Talk To People You Can Trust; Cannabis Alone Is Never The Answer
Ultimately, nobody can predict how you will react in any given mood or mindset. Always be cautious when trying whether cannabis can help you deal with depression. As argued elsewhere in this blog, always talk about your experiences with others you trust. Whether they are your doctor, psychologist, family or friends; informing someone you can trust is essential. It prevents turning either your depression or your cannabis use into a secret or taboo. That in turn may isolate you from the people you need to overcome depression – cannabis alone is never the answer!
Previous research into weed against depression did indicate, however, that cannabis may aggravate mood disorders, too. That means it is impossible to predict whether cannabis will work for you as a unique individual. If you do want to try, always start out with a low dose and take your time to experience the effect it has on you. If you are using medication and you’re considering switching to cannabis, or using both at the same time, always consult your doctor. Do not start experimenting by yourself!
Which Amsterdam Genetics Strains Are Best For Depression?
As explained above, cannabis is no miracle cure for depression. Science is just beginning to understand the mechanisms by which weed could relieve the symptoms. Perhaps more importantly, trying just any cannabis strain may produce undesired effects, or no effects at all. Below, you will find three strains from the Amsterdam Genetics cannabis seeds catalogue with differing properties. Each of these qualities could qualify them for use with depression. In the end, though, this list is far from exhaustive; there are always other strains to try. Ultimately, your personal experience is all that counts.
Our Top 3 Cannabis Strains Against Depression
1 – Fatkid’s Cake
Fatkid’s Cake is a real hard-hitter when it comes to THC content. It produces a cheerful, deeply relaxed effect due to its indica-dominant genetic heritage. This strain is not ideal for those prone to anxiety and paranoia due to its high THC levels. Suggested for moderate dosages and experienced cannabis consumers.
2 – Lemon Haze
Lemon Haze provides an interesting balance of sativa and indica genetics. THC levels are lower than those of Fatkid’s Cake, yet high enough to produce long-lasting effects. This is a real mood lifter focusing on mental experience, with added cheerfulness provided by the uplifting effects of the terpene limonene. Lemon Haze also provides profound body effects. This makes it well-suited for people whose depression manifests itself mainly though bodily symptoms. Lemon Haze can also increase motivation, which could trigger you into taking that healthy walk outside or wash those dishes that were putting you down just by cluttering your kitchen sink.
3 – Blue Monkey CBD
Blue Monkey CBD is a special strain developed to yield maximum CBD and minimum THC levels. That makes it the perfect strain to test whether CBD’s potential against depression works for you. In addition, combining CBD cannabis with other strains containing more THC may ‘take the edge off’ the THC effects for more precise fine-tuning of the intended result.
Advice On Using Cannabis For Medical Reasons
Always be careful when using cannabis; especially when you want to use it for medical reasons. If you have no prior cannabis experience, don’t get drastic. Try small amounts of different strains if possible and keep a notebook handy to register the effects. Be honest with yourself and record the benefits as well as the downsides. Also note down your negative experiences; it’s the only way to arrive at your own ideal cannabis strain against depression. As mentioned, keeping your doctor informed is highly recommended. The same applies to other people around you; talking about depression and your possible remedies is always a good idea.
Bear in mind that natural products such as cannabis are subject to natural variation; no two strains, harvests, or even buds are exactly the same in their contents and effect. If you intend to grow your own medicinal cannabis against depression, try observing our medical grow guidelines to ensure optimal growing conditions and get the best results.
Trying Cannabis To Handle Depression: Baby Steps
Also note that the effects of cannabis can alter your perception of your inner state. This may include racing thoughts, increased heart rate, dizziness, palpitations, or faintness. These effects are no real cause for concern and they will pass after a while, but they can make you feel panicky and ill at ease. If you are new to weed, we advise asking a friend you trust who is more experienced to stick around for comfort and reassurance.
As always, tread lightly, take baby steps, and act responsibly when trying cannabis for any reason. Ask your local dispensary staff for advice on cannabis and depression; any responsible staff member should be willing and able to help you on your way.
With these words of advice in mind, you are now ready to hop over to our seeds catalogue and browse our strains. Also, check out our blog on growing cannabis for medicinal purposes for additional tips. Remember to go easy on yourself, because depression is a serious condition. Take it easy. Don’t expect fast results, and be responsible in your attempts to discover if, and how, cannabis can help you deal with your depression.