Kleptomania; Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Prevention.
Kleptomania is the irresistible urge to steal items that you generally don’t really need and that usually have little value. Kleptomania is a serious mental health disorder that can cause much emotional pain to you and your loved ones if not treated. Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder — a disorder in which you can’t resist the temptation or drive to perform an act that’s harmful to you or someone else.
Many people with kleptomania live lives of secret shame because they’re afraid to seek mental health treatment. Although there’s no cure for kleptomania, treatment with medication or psychotherapy may be able to help end the cycle of compulsive stealing.
Kleptomania symptoms may include:
Powerful urges to steal items that you don’t need
Feeling increased tension leading up to the theft
Feeling pleasure or gratification while stealing
Feeling terrible guilt or shame after the theft
The cause of kleptomania isn’t known. There are several theories that suggest that changes in the brain may be at the root of kleptomania. Kleptomania may be linked to problems with a naturally occurring brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate moods and emotions. Low levels of serotonin are common in people prone to impulsive behaviors.
Kleptomania also may be related to addictive disorders, and stealing may cause the release of dopamine (another neurotransmitter). Dopamine causes pleasurable feelings, and some people seek this rewarding feeling again and again.
Other research has found that kleptomania can occur after someone sustains a head injury. More research is needed to better understand all of these possible causes of kleptomania.
Although fear, humiliation or embarrassment may make it difficult for you to seek treatment for kleptomania, it’s important to get help. Kleptomania is difficult to overcome on your own. Treatment of kleptomania typically involves medications and psychotherapy, perhaps along with self-help groups. However, there’s no standard kleptomania treatment, and researchers are still trying to understand what may work best. You may have to try several types of kleptomania treatment to find something that works well for your situation
Because the cause of kleptomania isn’t clear, it’s not yet known how to prevent kleptomania with any certainty. Getting treatment as soon as compulsive stealing begins may help prevent kleptomania from becoming worse or becoming a chronic condition that’s difficult to overcome.