Date of Award

Winter 2018

Project Type

Clinical Doctorate

College or School




Program or Major

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Degree Name


First Advisor

Dayle Sharp

Second Advisor

Margaret Pritchard


Major Depressive Disorder is a debilitating illness that affects millions of Americans, including adolescents. The majority of adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) do not receive treatment. There may be a variety of reasons for this including stigma, access to care, and potential adverse reactions. People suffering from MDD are known to be at high risk for suicide. Lack of treatments adds the risk of suicide for adolescents with MDD. Identifying and implementing treatment options that are more acceptable and accessible are of the utmost importance. Although there is limited research regarding exercise/physical activity, depressive symptoms, and adolescents with MDD, there are two promising studies by Hughes, Barnes, Barnes, DeFina, Nakonezny, & Graham (2013) and Finazzi, Mesquita, Lopes, Fu, & Oliveira (2009). Currently, there is a physical activity program at Lakes Region Mental Health for adult patients. Unfortunately, adolescents do not have access to a similar group. This Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) Quality Improvement (QI) Project piloted an eight-week physical activity group for adolescents with MDD to determine the impact physical activity had on depressive symptoms. The PHQ-9 for Adolescents Depression Screening Tool was given to participants before joining the physical exercise group and upon completion of the physical activity group. Pre-intervention and post-intervention results of the PHQ-9 for Adolescents Depression Screening were compared and analyzed. In addition, a survey was administered at week four and upon completion of the physical activity group to gather qualitative data. The results of this Pilot DNP QI project indicate there was a decrease in the PHQ-9 for Adolescents for two out of the three participants. The qualitative data demonstrated improvement in depressive symptoms, self-esteem and social interaction for all three participants. These results are promising and support the need for a physical activity group for adolescents with MDD at Lakes Region Mental Health Center.