Kpop Star Kai and his struggle with depression


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Page last updated: 24/10/2022

Kpop Star Kai and his struggle with depression

In this blog we will discuss Kpop star Kai and his struggle with depression. 

Kpop Star Kai and his struggle with depression

Kpop Star Kai from EXO has opened up about his struggle with depression in a candid conversation with Dazed Magazine.

In this up close and intimate interview, Kai opened up about why he tends to withdraw on some days when he is generally known to be someone who is upbeat, bright, and cheerful. 

On his sombre and low days he mentioned that these days are days when he withdraws to be alone as well as days he wants to have the space to vent out his feelings, cry, and be by his lonesome. 

He told writers at Dazed Magazine,  

“My personality tends to be bright, but I do think there is fundamentally a part of me that withdraws. I like being alone and I tend to cry a lot. I also don’t have friends. Once in a while, I’ll be depressed and downcast, but in those moments I’ll just stay at home. I don’t make an effort to ignore or try to escape these emotions. I look it (depression) straight in the eye, cry my troubles away, and shake it off because it’s not something to be ashamed of.”

When asked how he deals with these difficult days and these difficult emotions, he mentioned that he seeks to face them directly instead of hiding or avoiding them. 

For Kai, real name Jongin, he prefers to allow himself to get intouch with his emotions, cry his troubles away, and eventually shake it off instead of pretending that everything is fine. 

Authenticity in the way he experiences life seems to be very important to Kai as he believes that being real with his feelings and his fans about his struggles is important because according to him, depression is not something to be ashamed of.

The interview also touched upon his views on happiness and how one can work towards it. For Kai, he believes that happiness needs effort and that at times it takes much effort for him to be mindful of the present- constantly reminding himself that he is happy inorder to feel happy. 

On this, Kia explained:

“Some may not agree, but I think happiness may not be all that great. I think it’s a problem with effort, but there are times when you consciously make an effort to be happy and see happiness right in front of you. I think a lot of people don’t personally realise that they are happy when they’re happy and often just pass by it…”

He highlighted what is one of the most important aspects about caring for your mental health- mindfulness about what is happening in the present and taking notice of happy moments in your life. 

Kai goes on to explain that for him it takes effort to be mindful but he strives to do it for everyday and every moment. 

“…Depending on how you make up your mind, this moment right now may be the happiest moment of your life. I make a lot of effort to say that I’m happy, to be happy. If I say, ” I really liked the interview with hyung today” when we part ways, won’t you and I both feel happy? Happiness may be something that isn’t too hard to achieve.”

Kai’s recent debut as an actor as well as a solo artist outside the work he does with his group EXO finds him in the limelight with adoring fans growing in numbers over time.

It does seem like the fame and the responsibility of having such a large following is impacting his mental health however, at the same time, the fact that he remains authentic and mindful of his present is a positive sign that he will be able to manage his mental health. 

Kpop Star Kai and his struggle with depression

What is depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.

Depression is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts. 

Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives. 

People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.

This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts. 

While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death. 

How to cope and manage if you have depression?

Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:

Seek professional help

If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field. 

There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you. 

Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different. 

Reduce stress

If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists. 

The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way. 

By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it. 

Learn and apply coping skills

If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression. 

This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques. 

You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, 

Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning. 


Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself. 

You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones. 

Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care. 

Eat a healthy diet

Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health. 

There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.

Sleep well

Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse. 

Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are

  • Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine. 
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid heavy dinners
  • Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing. 
  • Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.

Connect with loved ones

Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.

These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life. 

Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy. 

You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.

Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.


In this blog we have discussed Kpop star Kai and his struggle with depression. 


EXO News And Update: Kai Reveals Battle With Depression. Korea Portal. Retrieved on 29th April 2022.

EXO’s Kai opens up about his depression and how he deals with it. KoreaBoo. Retrieved on 29th April 2022.