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What Does It Feel Like to Be a Kleptomaniac?

People with the rare mental health condition kleptomania steal items compulsively. The syndrome can cause a person to steal stuff they don’t need or want. The temptation to steal might be so great when a person has kleptomania that it can be challenging to resist. Kleptomania is a recognised mental health condition. However, it is uncommon and only happens in 0.3% to 0.6% of the population.

Kleptomaniac frequently experience a high from stealing and may feel guilty or humiliated after committing larceny. The exact aetiology of kleptomania is unknown, although doctors think it is linked to biochemical and neurological abnormalities in the brain.

Psychological and mental pain, as well as potential legal repercussions, can result from kleptomania. Therefore, anyone displaying kleptomania symptoms must get medical attention from a trained specialist. The causes, remedies, where to get assistance and management of kleptomania are discussed in this article. 

What Do Kleptomaniacs Feel and How Do They Behave?

If someone has kleptomania, they will feel an intense want to take things, even if they don’t need or want them. In contrast to criminal stealing, kleptomaniacs frequently do not need or appreciate the stuff they steal and may discard or even return them.

At the time of the theft, a person may find it thrilling, but they are typically overcome with emotions of remorse and humiliation afterwards. Because of this, people could make tremendous efforts to keep their disorder a secret from their friends and family. 

Impulse control disorders include kleptomania. People who suffer from these diseases are unable to control their impulses, urges, or inclinations to do something that could be detrimental to others.

Causes of Kleptomania

The fundamental aetiology of kleptomania is unknown to doctors. However, they contend that biochemical and neurological anomalies cause it in the brain. The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine may be out of balance in kleptomaniacs.

Other possible causes include trauma and stress.

  • Kleptomania and other impulse control problems may be brought on by psychological trauma, particularly when it occurs in early life.
  • Kleptomania can also be brought on by trauma and stress. Kleptomania and other impulse control problems may be brought on by psychological trauma, particularly when it occurs in early life.
  • Stress exacerbates the loss of self-control and can increase kleptomania even though it does not directly cause it.

Inheritance may also be important. A person has a higher risk of getting kleptomania if a family member already has the condition.

Treatment and Supervision

Kleptomania does not have a specific treatment. As an alternative, doctors frequently combine psychotherapy and medicine.

Kleptomania can be effectively treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), one type of psychotherapy. CBT assists individuals in recognising and altering their thoughts and actions.

CBT might include:

  • learning to control one’s urges
  • establishing constructive coping methods
  • recognising triggers and avoiding them
  • reducing stress
  • treating any psychological problems that may be present

Doctors may also suggest medications to aid someone with kleptomania. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which function by raising the brain’s serotonin levels.

Common SSRIs include:

  • fluoxetine (Prozac) 
  • sertraline (Zoloft) 
  • paroxetine (Paxil) 
  • citalopram (Celexa) 

However, there have been instances where SSRI use led to kleptomania in patients with other mental illnesses.

Drugs that lessen cravings in persons with behavioural addictions and mood stabilisers are some other medications that doctors may use to treat kleptomania.

Need For Assistance

Many kleptomaniacs have feelings of shame or embarrassment and may be reluctant to seek assistance. However, a person has a higher chance of treating the illness if they receive therapy as soon as possible.

Experts have associated kleptomania with several different mental health conditions as well as a higher chance of suicide. Therefore, if someone exhibits symptoms of kleptomania, it is crucial to seek competent medical assistance. A healthcare practitioner can thoroughly assess the choices for treatment.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a resource for people. Call 800-950-6264 to reach the hotline.


Psychotherapy and medicine are frequently used in conjunction to treat kleptomania. Kleptomania can be effectively treated with CBT, one type of psychotherapy. SSRIs and mood stabilisers may be used as kleptomania treatments.

It’s critical to seek medical attention right away if someone exhibits kleptomania symptoms. The risk of suicide may be elevated, and there may be connections between kleptomaniacs and other mental health conditions.

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