Kleptomania is the inability to resist impulses to steal. The things that are stolen are not needed for personal use. They are also not taken for their monetary value. This is a rare condition.
The exact cause of kleptomania is not known. Chemical imbalances in the brain may play a role.
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Kleptomania appears to be more common in females than in males.
Kleptomania often occurs with other psychological disorders. These include:
Other factors that may increase your risk include:
Symptoms of kleptomania include all of the following:
Kleptomania is different from shoplifting or ordinary theft, which is:
A psychiatrist or psychologist will diagnose kleptomania when:
Treatment may involve treating an underlying disease. Other treatments include:
Counseling or therapy may be in a group or one-to-one setting. It is usually aimed at dealing with underlying psychological problems that may be contributing to kleptomania. It may also include:
Stress reduction techniques, including medication, yoga, or tai chi, may also be taught in therapy.
Drugs used for treatment include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, medications to treat drug addiction, and medications to treat seizure disorders.
American Psychiatric Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Aboujaoude E, Gamel N, Koran L. Overview of kleptomania and phenomenological description of 40 patients. Prim Care Companion. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(6):244-247.
The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. New York, NY: Columbia University Press; 2001.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. American Psychiatric Association; 1994.
Kuzma JM, Black DW. Compulsive disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2004 Feb;6(1):58-65.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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