by Amy Scholten, MPH
Kleptomania is an overwhelming urge to steal. The things stolen are not needed for personal use or value. This is a rare condition.
The cause is unknown. Chemical imbalances in the brain may play a role.
Kleptomania appears to be more common in females than in males.
This condition often occurs with other mental health problems. These include:
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Kleptomania differs from regular theft. The person does not steal on purpose. Symptoms are:
A mental health doctor will ask about your symptoms. Kleptomania is diagnosed when:
The goal is to stop the behavior. Underlying problems may also need treatment. Options may be:
There are no current guidelines to prevent kleptomania.
American Psychiatric Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Antidepressant medication overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/antidepressant-medication-overview. Accessed March 9, 2021.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Shoplifting and suicide. Dana Foundation website. Available at: https://www.dana.org/article/shoplifting-and-suicide/. Accessed March 9, 2021.
Zhang ZH, Huang FR, et al. Kleptomania: recent advances in symptoms, etiology and treatment. Curr Med Sci. 2018;38(5):937-940.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 03/09/2021