Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Sara K. Bridges

Committee Member

Chloe Lancaster

Committee Member

Christian Mueller

Committee Member

Elin Ovrebo


The present study investigated whether the experience of existential anxiety influenced depression in the presence of authenticity and whether the experience was the same for identified and non-identified gifted college students. The exploratory study sought to examine these relationships in the context of emerging adulthood among a sample of 207 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 years, from a mid-sized urban university in the southern United States. Results indicated that influences of existential anxiety and authenticity on depression were not significantly different for students identified as gifted compared with the non-identified gifted. In addition, constructs associated with giftedness (overexcitability and grades) added to the influences of existential anxiety and authenticity on depression. For this sample, anxiety associated with emptiness/meaninglessness and guilt/condemnation was found to have significant associations with depression. Findings suggest that a more profound understanding of the interaction of giftedness and depression is needed and that clinical services to gifted students may need to be tailored to account for their emtional and cognitive complexities and other psychological hypersensitivities. Also, the role of authenticity as a buffer against depression should be considered in both therapeutic interventions with students in general, and with interpersonal relationships. Finally, existential anxiety is established as being an integral part of the experience of depression. More empirical reserach into the relationship between existential anxiety, authenticity, and depression is needed.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.