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Kleptomania is a mental health disorder characterized by an impulse to steal items of little to no value to the sufferer.

People with kleptomania don’t steal for personal or financial gain. They typically steal items that have little value to them and are often discarded or given away.

Most people with kleptomania do not plan to steal.

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They may be in a grocery store or airport when a spontaneous urge to steal hits them.

Kleptomaniacs often worry about self-preservation when the risk of arrest is high. They may travel a great distance away from home to steal and avoid being caught.

People with this mental condition often feel depressed or guilty about the thefts.

Kleptomaniacs lack self-control and self-discipline. They are preoccupied with self-gratification and a child-like need to fulfill their basic urges as quickly as possible.

Eventually the buildup of tension and stress compels them to steal to relieve their tension.

Causes of kleptomania

The causes of kleptomania are not fully understood. Kleptomania usually begins in early childhood when the sufferer is rewarded in some pleasurable way for stealing. After the first successful theft without consequences, stealing becomes easier, and is a way to cope with stress and anxiety.

Kleptomaniacs may be substance and alcohol abusers who have multiple mental disorders associated with poor impulse control.

Other mental disorders associated with kleptomania include:

  • Depression, anxiety
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Body dysmophic disorder
  • Body image disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder

Kleptomania is treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications such as SSRI anti-depressants.

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