It is still largely unknown which actions people take to improve their mood when they feel they are getting depressed. Using the five-factor model of personality, we explore coping actions in a population of older adults in residential homes in relation to personality traits. A total of 350 non-cognitively impaired inhabitants of residential homes in the Netherlands participated in this study (mean age 85 years). They indicated which of 22 actions to cope with depression they had used in the past three months, and which of these they considered to be helpful in reducing depression. Other measures included the NEO-FFI, CES-D and MINI. Almost 60% of all subjects had used one or more actions to reduce depression in the past three months, and almost 90% considered one or more actions to be helpful in reducing depression. People scoring high on neuroticism had used more coping actions, including relaxing, eating chocolate, praying, seeking professional help, engaging in more pleasant activities, and talking to friends and relatives. People scoring high on openness considered many of the actions to be helpful. We conclude that actions taken to cope with depression and their helpfulness differ considerably for subjects with differing personality traits. © 2007 Taylor & Francis.