According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), almost 10% of American adults were diagnosed with mood disorders in the last year. This term represents a category of mental illnesses where the underlying issue mainly impacts an individual’s emotional state.
Serious mood swings can be a symptom of a condition such as depression or bipolar disorder. The latter was once called manic depression and involves mood swings with at least one incidence of mania. It can also include repeated cases of depression.
Does Cannabis Help to Manage Mood Swings?
Before we discuss whether cannabis can help manage mood swings, let’s first define the term and discuss the conventional treatment options available to people experiencing them.
What Are Mood Swings?
As the name suggests, mood swings refer to an extreme or rapid change in one’s mood. Women with premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder can suffer from mood swings, as can individuals with medical conditions such as dementia, thyroid issues, and schizophrenia. Mood swings can also be common in bipolar disorder.
A severe mood swing can render the individual unrecognizable in terms of how they behave.
Mood swings are sometimes so subtle that they are barely noticeable. On other occasions, however, a severe mood swing can take place and render the individual unrecognizable in terms of how they behave.
People who have seven consecutive days of mania or four consecutive days of hypomania may qualify for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Mental health conditions such as cyclothymic disorder, major depressive disorder, or dysthymia can also lead to mood swings.
Other factors could be at play, including:
- Hormonal conditions such as menopause.
- Substance abuse, such as the use of illegal drugs or excessive alcohol consumption.
- A major change in a person’s life.
- Certain medications.
- Changes in sleeping habits.
Traditional Treatments For Mood Swings
One of the main issues with mood swings is the length of time it takes to diagnose a problem. In 2000, it was discovered that people with bipolar disorder could live with the condition for up to 10 years before getting properly diagnosed. In Bipolar Handbook, Dr. Wes Burgess wrote that an astonishing 70% of bipolar patients had been misdiagnosed at least three times before receiving the right diagnosis.
The rate of suicides amongst people with bipolar disorder is up to 60 times that of the national average. An estimated 30% of people with the condition will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime.
Therapy is one of the most effective methods of treating mood swings but is all too often eschewed in favor of prescription medication. There are many different drugs available to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder, where mood swings are a major symptom. Mood stabilizers such as lithium, asenapine, lamotrigine, and valproate, are also used to treat bipolar disorder, mania, and severe depression.
The trouble with these drugs is the litany of side effects associated with them, including:
- Thyroid problems
- Weight gain
- Weakness and fatigue
Then there are severe side effects when trying to wean off the drug. In recent years, research has begun to suggest that cannabis may effectively address mood swings without prescription drugs’ associated side effects.
Medical Research on Cannabis & Mood Swings
One study by Cuttler, Spradlin, and McLaughlin was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in August 2018. It looked at cannabis’s effects on specific mental health conditions and found that it significantly reduced ratings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
However, there was one crucial caveat: The most effective strains for stress were high in THC and CBD, while for depression, strains that were high in CBD and low in THC worked best. In the study, anonymous volunteers entered the name of the marijuana strain they used, along with the severity of the symptoms. Twenty minutes later, they entered how much cannabis they consumed and reviewed their symptoms.
In over 89% of cases, symptoms ratings were reduced, and symptoms only increased in 3.2% of cases.
In over 89% of cases, symptoms ratings were reduced, and symptoms only increased in 3.2% of cases. The interesting factor is the high CBD to THC ratio. It is believed that high THC strains could exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals predisposed to these conditions. However, CBD could reduce the negative impact of THC, which would help explain why strains with ample CBD were so effective.
A 2016 study by Sexton et al. discovered that pain, anxiety, and depression were the top three reasons people used medicinal marijuana. In any case, the Cuttler study found that medical marijuana users experienced a near 60% reduction in anxiety and a 50% reduction in depression after consuming cannabis.
For the record, 10+ puffs produced the most significant stress reduction. Strains with 9.5%+ CBD and 5.5% or less THC were best for depression, while strains with 11%+ CBD and 26%+ THC worked well for depression.
5 Best Marijuana Strains For Mood Swings
Based on the research findings outlined above, here are our picks for the five best cannabis strains for mood swings.
Please note that none of these have been proven to be the best strains for mood swings in any studies; they are merely our recommendations based on the potential benefits offered by their cannabinoid contents. Also, please do not discontinue any prescription medications you may be taking for mood disorders without consulting a physician.
1 – Harlequin
Harlequin has been praised as the perfect strain for unwinding because it alleviates stress without making its consumers feel too tired. Users often report feeling happier and more energetic after consuming this strain. It can also lead to increased focus and a greater feeling of motivation.
The high CBD levels ensure that Harlequin remains popular for its potential painkilling properties. Aside from addressing migraines and joint pains, cannabis consumers use it to alleviate anxiety and depression.
2 – Frank’s Gift
This sativa-dominant hybrid is a phenotype of Skunk Haze. It is a strain known for its phenomenally high CBD levels, making it a favorite of medicinal marijuana users. Its CBD content can hit 20%, while the THC level remains low between 1% and 5%.
The high CBD to THC ratio means that Frank’s Gift offers a mellow high that involves a feeling of euphoria, followed by an uplifting sensation. Users report feeling noticeably happier after using this strain. Eventually, the user’s body will begin to feel more relaxed, a process that can help take care of niggling pains and aches.
Frank’s Gift is widely recognized as one of the best medical marijuana options around. It reportedly offers temporary relief from tension, muscle spasms, mood swings, and chronic pain. The low level of THC means that side effects such as paranoia are less likely.
3 – Harley Mandala
Harley Mandala, also known as Mandala #1, is an evenly balanced hybrid. It is a cross of a South African Highland Sativa, a New Zealand Purple Indica, and a North Indian Sativa.
With an average THC level of 5-6% and a CBD content of 8-9%, its cannabinoid content aligns with what the Cuttler study above suggests is best for addressing depression. It offers a mellow high that may help calm the mind and ease aches and pains. A feeling of bliss typically takes over and provides the user with energy and motivation.
The Harvey Mandala strain is commonly used to address depression, chronic fatigue, stress, anxiety, and mood swings. Users say it is ideal as a morning pick me up or for a little boost in the afternoon.
4 – Cannatonic
Cannatonic is a strain capable of providing users with a psychoactive buzz that never threatens to overwhelm. It is a cross of G13 Haze and MK Ultra and is a balanced hybrid. Cannatonic was specially developed for medicinal use. It has a CBD level of 12% against between 7% and 15% THC.
The high is light and mellow but doesn’t last as long as potent strains. Users report feeling uplifted and happy after consuming Cannatonic.
5 – Sour Tsumani
This slightly sativa-dominant hybrid is a cross of NYC Diesel and Sour Diesel. It was developed by the famed breeder, Lawrence Ringo, who was part of the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective. Ringo created Sour Tsunami to help manage his back pain because he didn’t want to use his typical medication.
It was one of the first marijuana strains in the United States to be bred for medicinal use. Depending on the cut, the THC content can range from 1% to 10%, while the CBD usually remains consistently between 10-11%. It is not a strain that will provide an intoxicating high, but Sour Tsunami users may feel the full analgesic effects of this strain.
Sour Tsunami is definitely a daytime strain for medical use. As well as being used to manage chronic pain, it is also used to address depression and anxiety.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana & Mood Swings
There is no evidence that any particular cannabis strain is helpful for individuals with mood swings. However, strains with very specific cannabinoid contents may offer people temporary relief from mood swings.
According to the data so far, it is a combination of THC and CBD, along with the hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes, that may help users to address their mood swings.