WHAT IS KLEPTOMANIA AND HOW TO TREAT IT?
KLEPTOMANIA IS A SEVERE MENTAL DISORDER THAT IS CURABLE IF TREATED THE RIGHT WAY.
Have you ever encountered or heard about a person who has a habit of stealing items for no apparent motive? Chances are, the person has an underlying psychological condition known as Kleptomania. As disturbing as it may sound, individuals who suffer from Kleptomania and the people who know them have a reason to be hopeful because the condition is treatable. Learn what it is all about, its signs and the proper treatment.
WHAT IS KLEPTOMANIA?
Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder where individuals cannot control the urge to steal items that they usually do not need or those that are of no value to them. It is a severe mental health malady that, if left untreated, can bring emotional pain to the victim and their loved ones.
Lack of control in both emotional and behavioral impulses causes the failure to resist the temptation to get something, leading to the act of “stealing.” The cause of Kleptomania is still unknown, and more research is needed to unravel the answers. Most theorists, however, associate the condition with:
- Low Serotoninlevels in the brain, which is often found in people with impulsive behavior.
- Addiction of any form and stealing may trigger the release of neurotransmitter dopaminethat’s responsible for pleasurable feelings.
- An imbalanced opioidsystem in the brain – the system regulating impulses.
You are the best person to know if you have the condition. You may suffer from Kleptomania if you:
- Can’t resist the powerful urge to steal items that you don’t need.
- Feel tense, anxious, sometimes aroused before the act of stealing.
- Derive pleasure and gratification from stealing.
- Feel guilty, ashamed, and remorseful after stealing.
- Repeat the cycle all over again.
People afflicted with Kleptomania commonly have these characteristics:
- Stealing episodes are spontaneous and without collaboration with anyone.
- The person has no need for the items stolen. They stash them away for storage, give them away, or secretly return them to the original location.
- Most of the time, stealing takes place in public places. However, the person may sometimes steal from acquaintances, friends, or family members.
- The main reason for stealing is to satisfy a compulsive urge. This is different from shoplifters, who steal for personal gain, rebellion, or to challenge a dare.
- Stealing urges may occur from time to time or at regular intervals. The intensity may vary, but the cycle continues.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
People with Kleptomania are generally afraid to admit they have a problem and ask for help due to shame and fear of being judged. Another reason is the fear of being arrested for the theft committed. Ironically, there may be those who have come to terms with their condition and sought help, and they did so because they got caught or arrested.
Individuals who have made the decision to seek help should expect to initially undergo a serious talk with a mental health professional and answer some diagnostic “tests.” This phase should help the doctor assess the level of condition. The doctor then engages the person in discussion with the objective of coming up with the most suitable treatment approach.
Up to now, researchers and medical health experts are still trying to identify which approach works best. While there is no pill or medicine to cure the condition unlike a typical physical ailment, there are treatment options that have proven to work over the years. It would all depend on your preference and your needs. Whichever treatment you opt to have, let your doctor guide you through the process.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
This psychotherapy is typically used in the program to rehabilitate addiction patients. The therapy target your stealing urges involves these techniques:
- Aversion therapy, where you practice slightly painful techniques such as pinching yourself continuously until you become uncomfortable whenever you have an urge to steal;
- Covert sensitization, where you imagine yourself stealing and encountering negative consequences (like being caught or arrested); and,
- Systematic desensitization, where you do relaxation exercises and imagine yourself controlling your stealing urges.
Currently, the federal drug administration bodies have not approved any specific drug to treat Kleptomania. A lot of research is yet to be done to find Kleptomania pills. While waiting for this development, mental health doctors continue to prescribe medications like anti-depressants that contain a certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). However, this depends on whether you have another underlying mental disorder.
Other doctors may use what they call opioid antagonists to minimize urges and gratification feelings linked to stealing. Your doctor may consider other medications. When this happens, consult them about possible side effects. Also, seek to know and if the drugs would interfere with your other medicines. Strictly follow your therapist’s advice. Furthermore, make it a point to seek assistance from a person you trust or a support group.