Perfectionistic concerns (i.e., negative reactions to failures, concerns over others’ criticism and expectations, and nagging self-doubts) are a putative risk factor for depressive symptoms. This study proposes and supports the existential model of perfectionism and depressive symptoms (EMPDS), a conceptual model aimed at explaining why perfectionistic concerns confer risk for depressive symptoms. According to the EMPDS, perfectionistic concerns confer risk for depressive symptoms both through catastrophic interpretations that magnify relatively minor setbacks into seemingly major obstacles and through negative views of life experiences as unacceptable, dissatisfying, and meaningless. This investigation tests the EMPDS in a sample of 240 undergraduates studied using a 4-wave, 4-week longitudinal design. Hypotheses derived from the EMPDS were largely supported, with bootstrap tests of mediation suggesting that the indirect effect of perfectionistic concerns on depressive symptoms through catastrophic thinking and difficulty accepting the past is significant. Results indicated perfectionistic concerns are more an antecedent of, rather than a complication of, catastrophic thinking, difficulty accepting the past, and depressive symptoms. Consistent (but imperfect) support for the incremental validity of the EMPDS beyond either perfectionistic strivings or neuroticism was also observed. Overall, this investigation suggests persons high in perfectionistic concerns not only tend to catastrophize their life experiences but also struggle to accept their life experiences and to negotiate a sense of purpose, direction, and coherence in their lives. With both a catastrophic view of their present and a dark view of their past, this investigation also suggests persons high in perfectionistic concerns are at risk for depressive symptoms.