Background Depression is common in Parkinson's disease (PD) and adversely affects quality of life. Both unilateral and bilateral subthalamic (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) effectively treat the motor symptoms of PD, but questions remain regarding the impact of unilateral STN DBS on non-motor symptoms, such as depression. Methods We report changes in depression, as measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17), in 50 consecutive PD patients who underwent unilateral STN DBS. Participants were also evaluated with UPDRS part III, Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire-39, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. The primary outcome was change in HAMD-17 at 6 months versus pre-operative baseline, using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Secondary outcomes included the change in HAMD-17 at 3, 12, 18, and 24 months post-operatively and correlations amongst outcome variables using Pearson correlation coefficients. As a control, we also evaluated changes in HAMD-17 in 25 advanced PD patients who did not undergo DBS. Results Participants with unilateral STN DBS experienced significant improvement in depression 6 months post-operatively (4.94 ± 4.02) compared to preoperative baseline (7.90 ± 4.44) (mean ± SD) (p = <0.0001). HAMD-17 scores did not correlate with UPDRS part III at any time-point. Interestingly, the HAMD-17 was significantly correlated with sleep quality and quality of life at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months post-operatively. Participants without DBS experienced no significant change in HAMD-17 over the same interval. Conclusion Unilateral STN DBS improves depression 6 months post-operatively in patients with PD. Improvement in depression is maintained over time and correlates with improvement in sleep quality and quality of life.