Understanding Kleptomania: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Kleptomania is a complex and often misunderstood disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. People with kleptomania experience an irresistible urge to steal items that are not necessary or valuable, and they may feel a sense of relief or pleasure after the theft. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for kleptomania.

Causes of Kleptomania

The exact causes of kleptomania are not fully understood. However, it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Some studies suggest that a family history of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse may increase the risk of developing kleptomania. Other studies have found a possible link between kleptomania and brain chemistry imbalances. Additionally, traumatic experiences, such as physical or emotional abuse, may contribute to the development of kleptomania.

Symptoms of Kleptomania

The primary symptom of kleptomania is the recurring urge to steal items that are not necessary or valuable. People with kleptomania may feel a sense of tension or anxiety before stealing and a sense of relief or pleasure afterward. They may also experience feelings of guilt or shame and may try to hide their behavior from others. In some cases, people with kleptomania may steal items that they do not need or want and may even return the items later. Others may hoard stolen items or give them away as gifts.

Treatment for Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a treatable disorder, but it can be challenging to overcome without professional help. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication and therapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, may help reduce the urges to steal. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is also an effective treatment option for kleptomania. CBT focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to stealing.

In addition to medication and therapy, lifestyle changes and support from family and friends can also be beneficial for people with kleptomania. For example, avoiding situations that may trigger the urge to steal, such as crowded stores or social events, can be helpful. Building a support system of trusted individuals who can provide encouragement and accountability can also aid in recovery.


Kleptomania is a serious disorder that can have significant consequences for individuals and their loved ones. However, with the right treatment and support, people with kleptomania can overcome their urges to steal and lead fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know may be struggling with kleptomania, it is essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. With the right treatment, recovery is possible.

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