Kleptomania all you want to know

Do you know someone with an urge to steal things that they don’t necessarily need or even want? This impulse to shoplift often causes distress and embarrassment for the person dealing with it, as they struggle to come to terms with their behaviour and wondering why it persists. This is Kleptomania - a mental health disorder characterised by recurrent failure in controlling one's impulses resulting in stealing items without a primary motive of financial gain. In this blog post, we'll look at understanding kleptomania – what it is, its signs and symptoms, possible treatments available and how psychologists can support individuals struggling with this behavioural disorder.

What is Kleptomania and Symptoms

Kleptomania is a mental disorder characterized by an overwhelming urge to steal items that are not needed for survival or practical use. This condition has been classified as an impulse control disorder and is typically viewed as a form of self-medication for underlying emotional problems. Symptoms of this condition include recurrent stealing, the sense of tension before committing the act, a feeling of pleasure while engaging in stealing behavior, and the guilt or remorse afterwards. As with all mental disorders, it is important to seek professional help if you believe you may be affected by kleptomania, in order to properly address your symptoms and obtain effective treatment.

Symptoms of Kleptomania include:

  • An irresistible urge or need to steal items, usually those that are not necessary for everyday use
  • An intense sense of tension prior to the act of stealing
  • A feeling of relief or pleasure after the act of stealing
  • Stealing items that are not needed for one’s personal use and have little monetary value
  • Repeated attempts to resist the urge to steal
  • The presence of other mental health conditions such as depression, OCD, substance abuse, or other impulse control disorders.

How is Kleptomania Diagnosed

Diagnosing kleptomania is a multifaceted and thorough process that should involve both physical and psychological evaluations. A professional diagnosis would begin with a comprehensive assessment of medical history, family health records, and psychological tests to determine if kleptomania could be the root cause of a patient’s shoplifting behavior. This is particularly important because there may be underlying health issues that need to be addressed. Additionally, clinicians must utilize tools that assess motivation, impulse control, and other factors to form an accurate diagnosis. Ultimately, diagnosing this psychiatric disorder requires time, effort, and careful consideration in order to provide the best treatment plan for each individual patient suffering from kleptomania.

Treatment Options for Kleptomania

Treatment for kleptomania typically involves a combination of therapy, antidepressants, and support groups. 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy focuses on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that trigger the urge to steal and helps one deal with those impulses in a productive way.
  • Medication: Certain medications like antidepressants can help curb compulsive behavior.
  • Group Therapy: In group therapy, individuals struggling with kleptomania can share their experiences and receive support from others who understand what they are going through.
  • Support Groups: Support groups provide a safe space for individuals with kleptomania to talk about their struggles and learn from each other’s experiences
  • Self-Help Strategies: Self-help strategies such as mindfulness meditation or journaling can help an individual better handle the urges to steal.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques for Kleptomania include:

  • Identifying triggers and underlying factors that lead to the urge to steal
  • Learning to recognize one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to stealing
  • Learning methods of coping with negative thoughts and feelings
  • Developing tensions management skills
  • Practicing self-monitoring by recording the thoughts and feelings experienced before a stealing episode
  • Exploring the consequences of stealing
  • Establishing alternative ways to cope with stress or anxiety
  • Making lifestyle changes such as creating new habits or routines.

What are the Risks of Having Kleptomania

Kleptomania—also known as compulsive stealing—is a serious condition that can have long-lasting effects on an individual's life. In addition to causing significant emotional and financial burden on the person with the disorder, kleptomania also carries various risks. From possible jail time as a result of legal issues to increased anxiety, depression, and difficulty forming healthy relationships, individuals struggling with kleptomania should be aware of the potential consequences of their behavior in order to seek appropriate professional help. Onset is typically unexpected and those affected may not understand what has occurred until they have already acted upon their impulses. Early intervention and treatment are key to minimizing damage caused by this disorder when it occurs.

How to Cope with Kleptomania

Experiencing the impulse to commit theft, known as kleptomania, can be troubling and confusing. Left untreated, it can lead to hazardous behaviors and challenges that pose risk to your physical health and mental well-being. However, with proper self-care and treatment, you can learn tools and strategies to better manage the urge to steal. For example, research suggests that focusing on activities such as mindfulness meditation and cognitive restructuring can help build stronger coping skills when faced with a kleptomanic thought or impulse. Additionally, talking to a therapist can help provide more personalized tips for managing symptoms of kleptomania in order to reduce harm caused by theft-related impulses. With mindfulness practices and professional guidance, it is possible to successfully cope with the complex challenges associated with kleptomania.

Ways Friends and Family Can Support Those Struggling With Kleptomania

Friends and family members play an integral role in supporting a loved one who is struggling with kleptomania. The best way to help is by expressing understanding and support, regardless of whether the individual seeks treatment or not. Additionally, offering companionship and encouragement can be helpful when it comes to managing the symptoms. Practical strategies that family members and friends can implement include providing accommodations for those affected, such as taking them shopping only if accompanied by someone else or ensuring that only basic items are in their line of sight. Ultimately, having patience and providing a safe space to process difficult emotions can go a long way in helping individuals better cope with their condition.

Kleptomania can be a difficult condition to identify and manage, but with support from friends and family, proper diagnosis, and evidence-based treatments, those experiencing kleptomania can work towards improving their well-being. It's important to remember that everyone is different and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. By understanding the symptoms of kleptomania and working closely with a healthcare provider to make treatment decisions that are right for you or your loved one, you can begin to gain control over this disorder. Remember that help’s always available so don’t hesitate to reach out if needed because there are many resources available that are here to help. Ultimately, while it might be challenging at times, it is possible to live a rewarding life when managing kleptomania.