Indica or Sativa for Depression: What’s the Difference?

Diagnoses of depression disorders in the UK are on the rise and at a surprisingly fast rate. Before 2020, around 10% of UK citizens were reported to have a diagnosable depressive disorder. In the post-pandemic world, that number has risen to around 17%. While the NHS prescribes a range of medications for depression, and therapy options are wide-ranging, there is an obvious need for alternatives.

Many people battling the symptoms of depression have found hope in the use of cannabis-based medicinal products, but unless you are in the know, working out what variety or strain is best can be at least slightly overwhelming.

In general, Cannabis is split into three main categories – Indica, Sativa and Hybrid. While the most recent research is pointing to the possibility that the whole Sativa/Indica split may be a myth, there is still plenty of anecdotal evidence and reports that suggest Sativa dominant strains do offer a more mentally stimulating and overall energising effect, when compared to Indica dominant strains. 

Indica strains, on the other hand, are more often associated with body-heavy effects that can be useful in providing pain relief, relaxation, and an overall calming sensation. 

Hybrids strive to offer the best of both worlds by carrying a genetic background from both Sativa and Indica plants.

Let’s have a closer look at which of the three is best for people suffering from depression and why.

Sativa for Depression

While Indica dominant strains are more regularly thought of as the best option for reducing the symptoms of depression, Sativas do offer a range of possible benefits.

Sativa strains are typically referred to as ‘cerebral’ due to their more mind-altering effects, which could be beneficial in helping to ease depression-related emotions such as anxiety and stress. When used in moderation, Sativa strains can provide a positive and uplifting feeling that may help patients move away from the darkness of depression and toward a more joyful existence.

The energising effects of Sativa dominant strains may also help motivate those with depression and can provide a boost in liveliness that has been found to have positive effects on mental health.

Stick around, as a little further down, we will dive into the specific strains that we suggest for people suffering from depression.

Indica for Depression

Although the evidence is almost purely anecdotal, the general consensus is that Indica strains are more suited for those looking to ease the burden of depression. This is because Indica cultivars, in some respects, typically offer a more body-heavy and soothing effect.

Indica-dominant strains are known for relaxing both the mind and body. This can be especially beneficial for those with depression, who may often find themselves in a state of despair or even panic.

Indica’s also tend to be better for providing overall pain relief, which can again help those suffering from depression focus more easily on the positive aspects of life, especially if the depression stems from or is contributed to by chronic pain issues.

And then there are the soothing qualities of Indica strains. They are well known for their ability to bring about a powerful state of relaxation, which could help those with depression drift off into a peaceful sleep, which is frequently hard to find for those battling this sometimes crippling disorder.

Hybrid Strains for Depression

Hybrids are the last on the list and arguably the most popular choice for the wider community as well as those looking to relieve the symptoms of depression. This is because they tend to offer a combination of physical and cerebral effects, making them more versatile than cultivars with a heavy Sativa or Indica dominance, thus providing the potential for a more tailor-made experience when looking to ease depression-related symptoms.

In other words, patients can find the perfect balance of energising and calming effects tailored to their needs.

The best strains for people suffering from depression

When looking for Sativa strains suitable for those dealing with depression, there are a few key areas that we looked at.

First up is the potency. Strains with high THC potency can sometimes be a little overwhelming, which can lead to heightened anxiety levels. 

Next up was the terpene profile. Certain terpenes have been shown to have a positive effect on both depression and anxiety.

  • T9:C9 Warlock
    While T9:C9 Warlock is an Indica hybrid, it offers some Sativa traits that depression sufferers will be looking for. With just 9% THC and an even 9% CBD, this strain will offer relaxation without an overly cerebral high while still being energising. The terpene profile of this strain features a combination of Myrcene, Alpha-Pinene, and Caryophyllene, all of which are known to have positive effects on depression-related symptoms such as stress and anxiety.

  • ACDC Cookies
    For those wanting an even lower level of THC with high CBD potency, ACDC Cookies is an ideal choice. The terpene profile of ACDC Cookies features Myrcene and Caryophyllene, making it a great option for those looking to ease depression and anxiety without the risk of feeling overwhelmed. The THC potency is low at just 4%, while the CBD content sits at 10%.

  • Jack Herer
    The Jack Herer strain is a classic Sativa option that comes with huge amounts of Caryophyllene, making this the perfect ‘uplifting’ daytime strain for those with depression. Caryophyllene is known for its ability to help reduce stress and anxiety. The THC potency of Jack Herer sits at 18%, while the CBD level is just 1%.

  • Master Kush
    Master Kush is anything but a new-school Indica strain, but its ever-growing popularity is a testament to its effectiveness. With a THC potency of 22%, depression sufferers should start low and slow with this strain. When consumed in the correct quantities, the effects are soothing and joyful. The terpene profile is dominated by Myrcene and Caryophyllene, both of which work together to help alleviate depression-related symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and even chronic pain.

Are Sativa or Indica Strains Better For Depression?

Medicinal Cannabis is a personal experience, and each patient will find different strains that are most suitable for their own needs. It is impossible to make any sweeping statements regarding the best strain type for depression, as the effects can vary greatly depending on an individual’s response to THC and CBD.

The best way to determine what works best is to start slow and experiment with different cultivars until you find the perfect balance of Sativa and Indica effects that are specific to your needs.

Precautions and Risks

As with all medications, medicinal cannabis does come with potential side effects, and it is important to be aware of them. The most common adverse reactions include dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, increased anxiety, and mild paranoia.

We have discussed the need to start with lower levels of THC for the treatment of depression, which will help reduce any chances of raised anxiety levels or paranoia. In some cases, these effects can be mitigated by switching to a different strain or trying a different route of administration.