What is a kleptomaniac? Causes, treatment and more

Kleptomania is a rare mental health disorder that causes people to compulsively steal things. A person with the disease can steal things they don’t need or don’t need.

When a person has kleptomania, the temptation to steal can be so strong that it is hard to resist. Kleptomaniacs often experience an intense thrill from stealing and may experience feelings of guilt or humiliation after committing theft.

Doctors don’t know the specific cause of kleptomania, but believe it is related to biochemical and neurological abnormalities in the brain.

Kleptomania can lead to serious legal consequences and psychological and emotional distress. Therefore, anyone showing signs of kleptomania should see a qualified medical professional.

This article discusses kleptomania, its causes, treatment, and management. It also describes how a person can find help.

If someone lives with kleptomania, they have an overwhelming compulsion to steal things, even if they have no use for it or need to. Unlike criminal theft, people with kleptomania often do not need or appreciate the items they steal and may throw away or even return the goods.

Although an individual may find the act of stealing exciting at this time, they are often overwhelmed by feelings of shame and guilt. As a result, they may go to great lengths to hide their disorder from friends and family.

Kleptomania is an officially recognized mental health disorder. However, it is rare and occurs only in 0.3% to 0.6% Population.

Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder. People with these conditions are unable to resist impulses, temptations, or desires to perform an act that may harm other people.

Other impulse control disorders to understand:

Impulse control disorders frequently affect men more often than women. However, kleptomania occurs three times more often in women. People with kleptomania may also have other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder.

Doctors do not know the underlying cause of kleptomania. However, they believe it results from biochemical and neurological abnormalities in the brain. A person with kleptomania may have an imbalance in the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow communication between different areas of the brain. If they are out of balance, the brain may not respond to impulses as it should.

Stress and trauma are different potential causes of kleptomania. Psychological trauma, especially at a young age, could trigger the development of kleptomania and other impulse control disorders.

Stress contributes to loss of impulse control, and while this does not directly cause kleptomania, it could make the condition worse.

Genetics can also play a role. If someone has a family member with kleptomania, they are more likely to develop the same disorder.

There is no specific treatment for kleptomania. Instead, doctors generally use a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy useful to treat kleptomania. CBT helps people understand and change their thoughts and behaviors.

CBT may involve:

  • learn to control cravings
  • develop healthy coping mechanisms
  • identify and avoid triggers
  • To manage stress
  • treat any underlying psychological issues

Doctors may also recommend medications to help a person manage kleptomania. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.

Some common SSRIs include:

However, there have been cases of SSRIs inducing kleptomania in people with other mental health disorders.

Other drugs doctors may use to treat kleptomania include mood stabilizers and drugs that reduce cravings in people with behavioral addictions.

People with kleptomania are often ashamed or embarrassed and may be reluctant to seek help. However, the sooner a person receives treatment, the better their chances of managing the disease.

Experts have linked kleptomania to several other mental health disorders and a increased risk of suicide. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor if anyone shows signs of kleptomania. A medical professional can provide a thorough evaluation and discuss treatment options.

People can find help through National Alliance on Mental Illness. The helpline number is 800-950-6264.

Desteel is a non-profit organization that provides aid and support across the United States. People can join support groups and find information and resources.

Kleptomania is a recognized mental health disorder. This causes people to feel an irresistible urge to steal things even though they don’t need them. As the condition causes people to engage in illegal behavior, it can have far-reaching consequences and lead to problems at work, school, or home.

Doctors do not fully understand the causes of kleptomania, but believe it is the result of biochemical and neurological abnormalities in the brain. The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine are likely involved.

Treatment for kleptomania usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. CBT is a particularly useful type of psychotherapy for treating kleptomania. Medications to treat kleptomania may include SSRIs and mood stabilizers.

If someone shows signs of kleptomania, it is important to see a professional doctor as soon as possible. Kleptomania may have links to other mental health disorders and an increased risk of suicide.

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