Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Kuiper, Nicholas A.


This dissertation used Leventhal’s Self-Regulation Model (SRM) as a theoretical framework to examine how undergraduates make sense of and cope with symptoms often associated with depression. Students completed questionnaires about possible depressive symptoms (not labelled as such); as well as other components of the SRM, including demographics, psychosocial context, current psychopathology, cognitive appraisals and emotional reactions. Previous SRM studies have often focused on how people make sense of depression once symptoms have coalesced into a clearer clinical picture. In contrast, Part 1 of this dissertation focused on an earlier application of the SRM to a range of vague, generally mild depressive symptoms. In addition, past studies have investigated a limited number of SRM components. Accordingly, Part 1 tested a more comprehensive SRM, finding that students viewed their potentially depressive symptoms as normative and temporary in the context of university stress. Furthermore, while it is known that many people do not seek treatment for depression, it is less well-known what individuals do to cope. As such, Part 2 showed that students were coping with generally mild distress using positive self-help methods, more so than negative self-help or professional assistance. Finally, Part 3 explored how the SRM components predicted coping strategies at two time points. The predictive SRM components varied depending on the coping strategy examined, and some SRM components (e.g., emotional representation) emerged as stable predictors of coping over time. Expansion of SRM theory to include these results was considered, along with potential clinical applications toward contemporary university mental health initiatives.