Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Rosalie A. Corona

Second Advisor

Bruce D. Rybarczyk


Research has suggested that depression symptoms generally decrease after late adolescence; however, there is increasing attention paid to depression symptoms among college students given the stressors unique to this time period and negative outcomes associated with depression. This study examined latent trajectories of depression symptom severity among college students. Participants were 9,889 college students who participated in the Spit for Science project (Dick et al., 2011). Growth Mixture Modeling was used to identify the presence of four subgroups of individuals with similar patterns of initial level and change in depression severity over four years of college, including Low/Minimal (55.9%), Decreasing (2.8%), Increasing (11.6%), and Chronically Elevated (29.7%) groups. Risk factors of belonging to a depressed mood trajectory include female gender; lesbian, gay, or bisexual orientation; and experiencing a greater number of stressful life events. Higher social support and self-reported resilience were associated with decreased likelihood of belonging to any of the depressed mood trajectories. Overall, it appears that most college students in this sample experience only mild depression symptoms; however, it is important to recognize and intervene early with individuals who report elevated depression symptoms as some are at risk for persistent and increasing depression across college.


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