Kleptomania: Symptoms & Causes

Among various behavioral disorders, Kleptomania is one of the most shameful and shocking. Patients with Kleptomania feel an irresistible urge to steal something. It is not because they need it or they will make money out of it. However, this is a sudden urge that the patients cannot control. They find pleasure in stealing, and after that, they get filled with guilty feelings. Women are more likely to be affected by Kleptomania. However, this is not a very common disorder, and only 0.5% people of the whole population of the US are affected by this behavioral disorder. Therapy and medications are the best−known ways to keep the behavior under control. In the below, learn in detail the symptoms, causes, preventive measures, and complications of Kleptomania.

What is Kleptomania?

Kleptomania is an impulsive disorder where the person feels an irresistible urge to steal things. It is not their characteristic flaw. They know stealing is harmful, but they cannot control themselves from it. Such an overpowering urge to steal is initially fulfilled by satisfaction. After that satisfactory feeling occurs, a Kleptomaniac does not steal because they need it but because of mental health conditions.

Symptoms of Kleptomania in Children & Adults

A sudden and irresistible need to steal things is one of the primary symptoms of Kleptomania. Some other symptoms may also involve −

  • A tension arises before stealing, pleasure is followed after the work is done, and regret or shame occurs later.

  • The person does not need the stolen items. So sometimes, regretfully, they donate or return it or pay for the items.

  • Stealing is not planned but a sudden urge and does not generally involve compatriots.

  • Kleptomaniac Patient Tries to hide it from everyone, even the health experts.

  • Stealing generally happens in public places where it is easy to steal.

In Children − Kleptomania is all about stealing things from others. It can not be said that this is very uncommon for young children. Due to the lack of moral knowledge, they sometimes steal stuff they like. Kleptomania may occur at any age, so recognizing children with Kleptomania gets difficult. Kleptomaniacs do not steal things out of necessity. Children also tend to steal other's objects to impress peer groups and get attention. Suppose the child with such behavior cannot be corrected even after moral teachings. In that case, parents should contact mental health experts to diagnose if the child has Kleptomania or not.

In Adults − Stealing things unnecessarily to impress someone is not common among adults. Sometimes they may act like this because of need or out of excitement. Excluding this, if an adult is stealing things continuously and unnecessarily, he may need medical attention. However, differentiating between such situations is not easy. The person should come forward and help himself to come out of such problems. Kleptomania is not very common. Only 0.3 to 0.6% of people in the US are affected by Kleptomania. Among them, 4 to 5% of people are arrested for stealing.

Causes of Kleptomania

Several factors are responsible for kleptomania symptoms. They are like −

  • Addictive Disorders − Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is the cause of the pleasant feeling that the person feels after stealing. An excessive amount of dopamine can result in Kleptomania.

  • Abnormal Quantity of Serotonin − Low serotonin level can cause Kleptomania as it can regulate abnormal moods and emotions.

  • Imbalance in Opioid System − An imbalance in the brain's opioid system can also trigger Kleptomania, making it harder to control the urges.

  • The difference in Brain Structure − Kleptomaniac patients may have a strange brain structure, especially controlling impulses.

  • Genetics − It is still not known if Kleptomania is an inherited or genetic disorder. But additional mental health conditions can trigger Kleptomania.

  • Associated with Other Mental Disorders − Kleptomania can be worsened by other mental disorders like addiction, depression, anxiety, etc.

Causes of Kleptomania

  • Addictive Disorders

  • Abnormal Quantity of Serotonin

  • Imbalance in Opioid System

  • Associated With Other Mental Disorders

  • Genetics

  • The difference in Brain Structure

Complications & Risk Factors

The severe risk factor involved in Kleptomania must be arrested after repeated threats. It also results in mental, emotional, legal, and financial problems.

  • People with Kleptomania can develop other disorders like eating disorders, personality disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

  • He will be fragile in impulse control and can get addicted to gambling or drugs.

  • If the person has any background of Kleptomania, alcohol or other substances can increase the risk factor of this disorder. Sometimes suicidal thoughts will be prominent, and the person can even make suicide attempts.

  • Other risk factors of Kleptomania include self−humiliation, shame, guilt, moral degradation, stress, and loneliness.

How to Treat a Kleptomaniac Patient?

If you find the symptoms of Kleptomania, go for treatment at once. Also, do a favor to yourself and try to follow the preventive measures.

  • Find Technologies to Help You − You can find technologies that'll control your behavior or make you aware if any behavior of stealing may surge. Try to go shopping or anywhere with others aware of your disorder. A mental health advisor can suggest ways to adapt to such a situation.

  • Take Medications − Though there is no specific medicine to cure Kleptomania, some medications can help balance the brain's chemicals. Never stop the medicine suddenly or without a prescription from an expert. Follow the advice of a specialist word by word.

  • Maintain Follow−up Routines − Visiting a specialist once in a while is not enough. Go to the mental health specialist from time to time and discuss your performance with him. Therapy and treatment are the best way to prevent Kleptomaniac disorder.

  • Be Honest to The Health Expert − Do not try to conceal your activities from the health experts because of some guilt, fear, or the same. Your frank admits it may help them to treat better.


Kleptomania affects mental health multi−directionally. This behavioral disorder can arise anytime, which may lead you to sell hatred. For a momentary pleasure, Kleptomaniacs will be filled with guilty feelings or the same. They try to hide such conditions from their partners or health experts. It is not a purely medical issue, so they cannot stop themselves from stealing. So, the Kleptomaniacs need proper health care and sympathy. Otherwise, depression, stress, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts may occur. If you find someone with Kleptomania, insist they go through proper medication. It cannot be strongly claimed that Kleptomania will be cured, but there is a possibility that the patient will at least live a life of controlled behavior without the fear of legal consequences.