"I've been depressed for the past year, lost my job, my parents got sick, etc. It's been a difficult one. I have come to the conclusion that when I smoke, I actually feel a lot better. It really bothers my wife that I do this. Can you tell me why it seems to help me? It seems counter intuitive especially because when i drink alcohol I become really depressed. "
Sorry to hear about the difficult circumstances you've been going through.
Research suggests that there is a link between the endocannabinoid system (which marijuana cannabinoids act upon) and depression. In general, sativa dominant strains tend to have an uplifting and energizing effect, which may help counteract depression. The terpene limonene (which has a citrus smell) may also be helpful for mood elevation. A couple examples of such strains are Jack Herer and Pineapple Express. (I do discourage smoking, because marijuana smoke contains carbon monoxide and tar as well as carcinogens that may be unhealthy for your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Vaporizing controls temperature and prevents combustion and is therefore considered a safer alternative to smoking.)
Alcohol, on the other hand, is classified as a depressant! Counterintuitively, alcohol in low doses may produce euphoria, but unfortunately in any amount may trigger and worsen depression. Furthermore, alcohol adversely affects sleep, which can deepen depression.