How can I help myself manage depression?

It can be common for people with Parkinson’s to experience depression. With the right treatment and support, many people who experience depression can get better. 

Treatments should be introduced step by step, starting with the simplest self-help measures. We share some of these here.

1
Keep active

Research has shown that exercising 2 to 3 times a week, especially as part of a group, can help with depression. It can also boost your mood and help you sleep well. 

If you have Parkinson's, exercise can be as important as your medication to help you manage your symptoms.
 
Find something that suits you and go for it. This could be as simple as chair-based exercise or a brisk walk that gets your heart rate up.

To get started, a physiotherapist can recommend exercise that is right for you. Also, your GP, local council or sports centre may organise exercise referral schemes in your local area.

Read more about exercise and Parkinson’s.

2
Try to eat a healthy diet

If you feel depressed, you may lose your appetite. This can lead to weight loss. Other people may eat more than they usually would and put on weight. 
 
Eating a balanced diet can improve low mood and your overall health. It can also give you more energy and help you think more clearly. 
 
Read more about diet and Parkinson’s.

3
Try to sleep well

Insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as getting too much sleep, can be symptoms of depression.

Sleep and night-time problems can be more common in people with Parkinson’s who also have depression. 

To help improve the amount and quality of your sleep, make sure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable, and go to bed at the same time each night. You should also try to get up at the same time each morning.

Read more about good sleep hygiene.

4
Find time to relax

Try doing things you enjoy, such as reading a book or listening to music.

You may find relaxation therapies, such as aromatherapy, useful. You could also try complementary therapies, such as massage, meditation, or exercises such as tai chi or yoga. 

Read more about complementary therapies for Parkinson's.

5
Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment, free from distraction or judgment. It can help you be aware of your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. It can improve both your physical and mental health.

The Parkinson's mindfulness toolkit introduces you to the techniques and benefits of mindfulness.

6
Connect with other people

Some people find it useful to talk to others who may understand how they feel because they have been in a similar situation. There are lots of places where you can connect with people who may be experiencing similar issues to you.

Parkinson’s UK has local groups across the UK that offer friendship and support. Parkinson’s UK can provide information on these local groups and how to contact them. You can use our local support tool or call our helpline (0808 800 0303). 

You can also talk to people on our online forum. The community welcomes anyone affected by Parkinson's. It’s a great place to share information and have a chat - all you need is an email address.

7
Seek support

Some organisations have helplines where you can share your feelings. You can call the Parkinson's UK helpline on 0808 800 0303 (Monday-Friday 9am-6pm and Saturday 10am-2pm). It is free and confidential. Our trained advisers can provide support to anyone affected by Parkinson's.

You can also contact the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393, which is open 9am-6pm, from Monday to Friday.
 
If you need to talk to someone outside of these hours, Samaritans are free to call 24/7 on 116 213.

8
Consider self-help computer programs

Some GPs provide access to computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses. Examples include Beating the Blues and MoodGYM. If you're interested in any of these activities, speak to your GP.

Find out more

If you think you may be depressed it’s very important to speak to your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse. They can make an accurate diagnosis and discuss the best way to manage your symptoms. This includes self-help measures as well talking therapies and medication.

Read more about depression and Parkinson’s.