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The Grinch, portrayed by Jim Carrey in the film How The Grinch Stole Christmas, shows symptoms of depression, say psychologists. ((STR New/Reuters))

The Grinch likely suffers from some well-defined mental health conditions that others might be able to identify with, some psychologists say.

The Grinch is a fictional holiday bad guy who sits atop Mount Crumpit plotting how to prevent Christmas from coming to Whoville.

"It could be perhaps that his shoes were too tight," the Dr. Seuss story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, reads. "It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right."

More likely, the Grinch is depressed, said Cynthia Bulik, a psychologist with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"When people think about depression they often think about people being sad," said Bulik. "But that's not always how depression expresses itself. Sometimes people who are depressed might get really irritable, and really grumpy and they can really withdraw socially."

The Grinch certainly wants to be left alone, irritated by thoughts of the noisy fun Whoville residents will have on Christmas morning, playing with their new toys.

It's hard to be part of the holidays when everyone else appears to be so happy, agreed Susan Kilbride Roper, who suffers from seasonal affective disorder — depression that strikes as the days grow shorter.

Impossible expectations

"When we don't have those feelings inside ourselves, being around people that are happy, and excited and feeling very social is really difficult and painful because you don't feel you can contribute to any of the conversations in the room," she said.

The Grinch appears to be suffering from an almost textbook case of antisocial personality disorder with depressed mood, said Todd Hill, a clinical psychologist in Halifax.

Symptoms include:

  • Failure to conform to social norms.
  • Deceitfulness.
  • Irritability.
  • Aggressiveness.

Christmas can bring out the worst in most people, said Hill, noting all of his clients in the last three weeks have complained about the stress and pressure they feel to buy, visit and fulfil some impossible ideal of holiday happiness.

"It's interesting to kind of identify with the Grinch and say, 'Me too, I hate Christmas at times, I hate the expectations,'" Hill said.

The treatment, Hill said, is to forget the Martha Stewart-type Christmas and realize you're not the only one feeling the pressure.

It's worth remembering the grinches encountered at Christmas might actually be depressed and need someone to extend a hand, Bulik advised.