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Kleptomania is the inability to resist impulses to steal. The things that are stolen are not needed for personal use or 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.
Psychological disorders are sometimes the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The frontal lobe of the brain is thought to provide impulse control.
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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.
There are no current guidelines to prevent kleptomania because the cause is not known.
American Psychiatric Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric 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 (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Kuzma JM, Black DW. Compulsive disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2004;6(1):58-65.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 10/12/2015