Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Derek R. Hopko

Committee Members

Todd T. Moore, Gregory L. Stuart, Jeannine Studer


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is found in about 20% of university students, with increasing incidence in the past two decades (American College Health Association, 2010). Depressed college students report significant academic problems, including lower grade point average, inability to concentrate, absenteeism, lower academic productivity, and interpersonal problems. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Behavioral Activation (BA) are two interventions that have significant potential in meeting demands of college counseling clinics insofar as treating depressed college students. This study utilized a randomized controlled design (n = 50) to examine the efficacy of four-sessions of abbreviated MBSR and BA relative to a no-treatment control condition with depressed college students. Results suggested both treatments were efficacious compared to the wait-list control group, there was strong therapist competence and adherence to protocols, and there were significant pre-post treatment gains across a breadth of outcome measures assessing depression, rumination, stress, and mindfulness. However, neither treatment effectively reduced self-reported somatic anxiety. Across both treatments, gains were associated with strong effect sizes, and based on response and remission criteria, approximately 56-79% of patients exhibited clinically significant improvement. There were no significant differences in outcomes as a function of active intervention at post-treatment, and treatment gains largely were maintained at 1-month follow-up. Study limitations and implications for the assessment and treatment of depressed college students are discussed.

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