BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — As we enter another pandemic winter, local health leaders expect more people to suffer from one form of depression — seasonal affective disorder.

“Seasonal depression is a form of depression. It’s a form of major depression. It occurs towards this time of year when the time changes,” said Stephen Aguillard, Mental Health Clinical Services Director at Capital Area Human Service. “It usually lasts 40 percent of the year. People start to feel sad, isolated.”

Capital Area Human Services has seen a greater number of people diagnosed with depression since the start of the pandemic. He expects specialists to be busier now because of the holiday blues.

“In the last year, we have probably gone up 75 percent from the year before when the pandemic first hit,” said Aguillard. “We probably increased by 20 percent in the last few weeks.”

Aguillard said these winter months are more difficult because of recent violent crimes.

“When I walked up to get you, I was up there a few minutes before and a police officer said we got another murder that took place,” he said.

The price increase on everyday items is also a trigger.

“You have people that have not worked in a while. Or have been laid off. Or they are not actively seeking a job for fear of the pandemic,” said Aguillard.

Experts say if you have signs of seasonal affective disorder the best thing to do is surround yourself with good company and seek help if necessary.

“If you end up having Covid or you have to end up being quarantined, you are more isolated than before. You end up putting yourself at home and you’re isolated. Once you’re able to get out of quarantine and back into the regular community it’s really challenging for some people. It’s hard to get up, it’s hard to get out because as depressed and as imprisoned they may feel as they may feel there is a comfortable level knowing they are safe in their own home away from everyone else. However, the depression can get worse. ” said Aguillard.

Capital Area Human Services offers a variety of services including adult and child behavioral health services, substance abuse services, and disabilities services.

More information on CAHS is available here.