Effective Treatment Options for Kleptomania

Last Updated
March 24, 2023
Effective Treatment Options for Kleptomania

Treatment Options
Helpful Products

Kleptomania, characterized by an irresistible urge to steal, can be difficult to manage and treat. Fortunately, several treatment options can help individuals with Kleptomania regain control over their lives. This blog will discuss the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Kleptomania.

About Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a rare mental health disorder that occurs in only 0.6% of the general population [2]. Individuals with Kleptomania are driven to steal items that they do not need and usually have no financial value. Unlike other mental health disorders, patients with Kleptomania often do not seek medical help because they are ashamed or embarrassed.

Symptoms of Kleptomania

Symptoms of Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to steal. People with Kleptomania often experience a "rush" or feeling of excitement while stealing, but they also feel guilt or shame afterward. Other common symptoms include preoccupation with stealing, feelings of tension before and during the act of theft, and relief after performing the act.

Causes of Kleptomania

The exact cause of Kleptomania is unknown. However, certain factors may increase a person's risk of developing this disorder. These risk factors include;

  • Problems with serotonin: Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate moods and emotions, may be linked to Kleptomania. Low levels of serotonin are common in people prone to impulsive behaviors, which could contribute to the urge to steal. [1]
  • Addictive mental disorders: Stealing may trigger the release of dopamine, another neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Some people with Kleptomania may become addicted to the rush of dopamine, which could lead to compulsive stealing behavior. [2]
  • Other Mental Health Conditions: Childhood trauma or neglect: A history of childhood trauma, physical or emotional abuse may also contribute to Kleptomania. Children who experienced neglect or abusive relationships may be more likely to engage in Kleptomania as adults. [2]
  • Childhood trauma or neglect: A history of childhood trauma or abuse may also contribute to Kleptomania. Children who experienced neglect or abusive relationships may be more likely to engage in Kleptomania as adults. [2]
  • Substance Use Disorders: Substance use disorders, such as alcoholism or drug addiction, are often associated with Kleptomania. The presence of other addictive behaviors may increase the risk of Kleptomania. [2]
A woman stealing fruit from a store

Unmasking the Psychological Impact of Kleptomania

Living with kleptomania isn't just about grappling with the uncontrollable urge to steal. There's an often unspoken psychological toll that this disorder can have on an individual's life. This section delves into the psychological impact of kleptomania, unmasking the layers of emotion and cognitive distress tied to this condition.

The Emotional Rollercoaster: Shame, Guilt, and Fear

One of the most profound aspects of the psychological impact of kleptomania is the emotional turmoil. Individuals with kleptomania often ride an emotional rollercoaster, marked by peaks of tension before the theft, brief relief after the act, and then a plunge into feelings of guilt and shame.

Guilt and Shame: The Unwanted Companions

Guilt and shame are common feelings experienced by those living with kleptomania. Despite the urge to steal being uncontrollable, individuals often blame themselves for their actions. This self-blame fuels feelings of guilt, while societal judgement can lead to deep-seated shame.

The Constant Companion: Fear

Another significant emotional aspect is fear. This fear can manifest in several ways - fear of being caught, fear of the legal consequences, and fear of judgement from friends, family, and society. This constant state of fear can be emotionally draining and further exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. [4]

A woman struggling with cognitive distress

Cognitive Distress: The Battle Within the Mind

Kleptomania is also characterized by cognitive distress, a form of mental strain that can significantly affect an individual's day-to-day life.

Obsession with Stealing: A Consuming Preoccupation

The mind of a person with kleptomania can become overly preoccupied with stealing. They might spend significant amounts of time thinking about past thefts, planning future thefts, or figuring out how to avoid getting caught. This obsessive thinking can interfere with their ability to focus on other aspects of life, such as work, relationships, or hobbies.

Distorted Self-Image: The Thief Identity

Over time, individuals with kleptomania may start to see themselves primarily as thieves, leading to a distorted self-image. This thief identity can overshadow other aspects of their personality and accomplishments, leading to low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness.

Interesting fact: Domestic violence may trigger kleptomania. Seek help if you're caught in this cycle; breaking free can also quell the urge to steal.

The Impact on Mental Wellbeing

Living with kleptomania can also have broader implications for mental wellbeing. The constant emotional turmoil and cognitive distress can lead to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts in severe cases. It's essential that individuals living with kleptomania reach out to mental health professionals who can provide the necessary help and treatment.

Depression: The Cloud that Looms

Depression is a common co-occurring disorder with kleptomania. The persistent feelings of guilt, shame, and fear, coupled with a distorted self-image, can lead to a pervasive feeling of sadness and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Anxiety: The Persistent Knot

Anxiety is another common psychological effect of kleptomania. The constant worry about potential thefts, fear of getting caught, and the stress of hiding their condition can all contribute to heightened anxiety levels.

Living with kleptomania can be a challenging journey, laden with emotional and cognitive distress. Understanding the psychological impact of this condition is the first step towards seeking effective treatment and finding a path towards recovery. Remember, seeking professional help is crucial. Mental health professionals can provide the necessary tools to manage the psychological impact of kleptomania, offering a much-needed lifeline to those dealing with this disorder. [5]

Helpful tip: Progressing through anxiety recovery stages can alleviate kleptomania urges. As anxiety lessens, so too can the impulse to steal.

A doctor busy with paperwork

Diagnosis of Kleptomania

American Psychiatric Association has stated that in order to diagnose Kleptomania, a clinician must identify these criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)[2];

  1. Failing to withstand urges to take things that are not necessary for personal use or for their monetary value on a regular basis.
  2. The moments leading up to the theft were becoming tenser and tenser.
  3. Pleasure, satisfaction, or relief at the time the theft was committed.
  4. The stealing is not done out of a sense of rage or retaliation, nor is it a reaction to a delusion or hallucination.
  5. None of the conduct disorder, a manic episode, or antisocial personality disorder offers a better explanation for the theft.

It's important to note that a qualified mental health professional should make the diagnosis after a comprehensive evaluation, which may include a medical and psychiatric history, physical examination, and psychological testing.

Treatment Options for Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a challenging disorder to treat, and there is no guaranteed cure for it. However, with proper treatment, many people with Kleptomania are able to control their urges to steal and significantly reduce the frequency and severity of their stealing behaviors. Treatment for Kleptomania may involve a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support groups.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Kleptomania

Kleptomania is frequently treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a popular method.[3]. CBT helps individuals with Kleptomania to identify and change their thoughts and behaviors related to stealing and develop new coping strategies to manage their urges to steal. Mental health professionals specifically use aversion therapy as the first approach to treating Kleptomania and other impulse control disorders.

Medication for Kleptomania

In most cases, medications used to treat other mental health problems, such as impulse control disorders and stress, are used to treat kleptomania [3]. Examples of medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. One of the most used medications for treating Kleptomania is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).[3] These medications work by changing serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate mood.

Covert Sensitization

This type of treatment involves having the patient think about a negative consequence that would result from stealing every time they feel the urge to steal. The goal of covert sensitization is to make the patient more aware of their behavior and to create an aversion to stealing.

Support Groups and Online Help for Kleptomania

Support groups can be an effective way of managing Kleptomania along with treatments. These groups provide a safe and confidential space for individuals to discuss their experiences. Although it is unlikely that kleptomania patients will all be able to join these groups, having access to someone who is going through similar mental health issues can help increase understanding and provide support.

For those who prefer confidentiality or cannot join group therapy, some online forums and therapy websites can support Kleptomania. These sites provide qualified specialists to answer questions and provide advice.

For those who prefer confidentiality or cannot join group therapy, some online forums and therapy websites can support Kleptomania. These sites provide qualified specialists to answer questions and provide advice.

The Social Consequences of Kleptomania: Navigating Through a Sea of Challenges

Kleptomania doesn't just affect an individual on a personal level, but it often has far-reaching social consequences that can significantly impact one's life. This section explores the often-overlooked societal impacts of kleptomania, shedding light on the challenges individuals face in their relationships, careers, and social standing.

Strained Personal Relationships: A Tangled Web

One of the most profound social impacts of kleptomania is on personal relationships. Friends, family, and romantic partners can all be affected by this disorder, causing strained relationships and emotional distress.

The Trust Dilemma: Broken Bonds

Trust is a foundational aspect of any relationship. However, the uncontrollable stealing associated with kleptomania can erode this trust. Loved ones may feel betrayed or hurt, which can strain relationships and create a hostile or uncomfortable environment.

The Emotional Burden: Shared Distress

The emotional turmoil experienced by individuals with kleptomania doesn't just affect them—it often spills over into their personal relationships. The constant guilt, shame, and fear can create an emotionally charged atmosphere, adding stress to loved ones and fostering feelings of helplessness or frustration.

Career Repercussions: Navigating Choppy Waters

Kleptomania can also impact an individual's professional life. The cognitive distress and preoccupation with stealing can affect job performance, while the potential legal consequences pose a risk to one's professional reputation.

Performance Decline: A Slippery Slope

The constant preoccupation with stealing and the associated emotional turmoil can make it difficult for individuals with kleptomania to concentrate on their work. This often results in reduced productivity and a decline in job performance.

Reputation Risk: A Stumbling Block

Being caught stealing can have severe professional consequences. It can lead to job loss, tarnish one's professional reputation, and create obstacles in future job searches.

Social Stigma: The Invisible Barrier

The social stigma associated with kleptomania presents yet another challenge. Misunderstandings and judgment about kleptomania can lead to social isolation and discrimination.

Misunderstandings and Judgment: A Thorny Path

Many people lack a proper understanding of kleptomania, viewing it merely as criminal behavior rather than a legitimate mental health disorder. This misunderstanding often translates into judgment and prejudice, making it difficult for individuals with kleptomania to seek help or share their experiences.

Social Isolation: The Lonely Island

Due to the fear of judgment and discrimination, individuals with kleptomania may withdraw from social situations, leading to isolation. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle that's hard to break.

Living with kleptomania is a journey fraught with social challenges. However, understanding these challenges is the first step towards overcoming them. By fostering understanding, promoting empathy, and seeking professional help, it's possible to mitigate the social consequences of kleptomania and lead a fulfilling life. [6]

Triumph Over Kleptomania: Inspiring Recovery Stories

Alexis Carleton

Alexis bravely opens up about their personal struggle with kleptomania, a condition they were officially diagnosed with in 2012. They draw parallels between their stealing addiction and drug addiction, highlighting the similar cycle of build-up, release, guilt, and repetition. They express frustration at the lack of support groups for kleptomania, especially in their locality in Columbia, SC, with the closest being in New York and the nearest treatment center in Michigan.

Despite attempts to establish a local support group, they face challenges due to stigma and misunderstanding. They stress the importance of peer support and the negative impact of keeping the issue silent and shameful.

Youtube: Kleptomania and Me -- My Experiences, Repercussions and Recovery


The individual admits to having made numerous regrettable decisions in their life, including repeatedly stealing from various stores. They initially believed they would never get caught or face any serious consequences. However, their naivety led to accumulating several police cases, some more serious than others. They now acknowledge their wrongdoing and express deep regret, realizing the gravity of their actions and the potential for long-term imprisonment. The individual urges others not to make the same mistakes, highlighting the loss of trust and opportunities that can result from a criminal record.

The person offers advice to those who might be struggling with similar issues. They suggest finding alternative ways to cope with the urge to steal, such as indulging in fun activities, finding creative ways to entertain oneself, or reaching out to friends or family for a chat. They strongly emphasize the potential loss that comes with continued shoplifting and the negative social implications.

Youtube: Kleptomania and Me -- My Experiences, Repercussions and Recovery


Kleptomania is a treatable mental health condition, but the journey to recovery can be difficult. Understanding the disorder and its symptoms is the first step in overcoming it. Many people can succeed by seeking professional help and following the treatment plan. Anyone with Kleptomania can lead a productive life with the right mindset, help from a mental health provider, and support.

To help improve your mental health, uncover the art of building meaningful connections with online therapist influencers - harness the power of engagement to enhance your therapeutic journey and accelerate your personal growth.


What triggers Kleptomania?

Kleptomania is thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that regulate brain activity. Stressful life events, a family history of impulse control disorders, and having a mental health condition can also trigger Kleptomania.

What doctor treats Kleptomania?

Psychiatrists and psychologists are the two types of doctors who specialize in treating Kleptomania. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications to help treat the disorder, while a psychologist can provide behavioral therapies. Depending on your condition, you may need to see both a psychiatrist and psychologist to get the best treatment for Kleptomania.


  1. The Kleptomania Connection between Serotonin and Stealing
  2. Kleptomania and Potential Exacerbating Factors - PMC
  3. Kleptomania Disorder
  4. Conceptualization and Treatment of Kleptomania Behaviors Using Cognitive and Behavioral Strategies
  5. Pubmed: Kleptomania and Potential Exacerbating Factors
  6. Sage Journals: Making Sense of Kleptomania: Clinical Considerations
  7. Youtube: Kleptomania and Me -- My Experiences, Repercussions and Recovery

Subscribe to our newsletter

We’ll never send you spam or share your email address.
Find out more in our Privacy Policy.

Leave a Reply

Table of Content hide
1 Effective Treatment Options for Kleptomania
April 11, 2024
ADHD Breakthrough: Bionic Reading Unlocks New Levels of Focus

Bionic reading transforms the reading experience for ADHD individuals by guiding the eyes for focus and understanding. Dive into the world of bionic reading.

Read More
April 11, 2024
The Best Shopping Addiction Workbooks

Find the best shopping addiction workbooks to guide your journey to recovery, offering structured programs, practical tools, and empowering strategies.

Read More
April 11, 2024
The Best Verbal Abuse Books

Discover the best verbal abuse books for understanding, coping, and healing from this damaging behavior, offering expert guidance and support.

Read More
April 10, 2024
The Best Books on Bullying

Explore our curated list of the best books on bullying, offering insights and strategies to understand, prevent, and address bullying effectively.

Read More
Mass Noorani
Mass Noorani is a professional writer who has been working with writing-challenged clients for over two years. She provides ghostwriting, SEO writing, Blog Content Writing, and ghost editing services. Her educational background in Information Technology and her passion for animals and science has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. Her writing skills may be confirmed independently on request. She especially enjoys writing about Technology, Pets, Gaming, Science, and DIY Crafts.
Author info
ADHD Breakthrough: Bionic Reading Unlocks New Levels of Focus

Bionic reading transforms the reading experience for ADHD individuals by guiding the eyes for focus and understanding. Dive into the world of bionic reading.

Read More
Is Postpartum Depression Hereditary? | Exploring the Genetic Factors and Risk Factors

Explore the complexities of postpartum depression and genetics in our blog 'Is Postpartum Depression Hereditary?' for insights into maternal mental health.

Read More
Trauma Responses In Relationships: The Importance, Types & Effects

Explore 'Trauma Responses in Relationships' and learn to navigate emotional challenges in intimate partnerships for stronger, healthier connections.

Read More


Colorful face with gears representing brains logo for shrinks-office.com

Subscribe to our newsletter

Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.
We always recommend speaking to a professional when it comes to your mental healht.
As an amazon affiliate and other affilate agent. We list affilate programs and links in our website.
Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.