"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Kleptomania: causes, symptoms and treatment

Stealing, i.e. taking something that belongs to others without permission, can develop into an addiction. The habit doesn't need to be as extreme as breaking into homes or stealing high-priced goods. Instead, it might be attributable to poor impulse control, which results in addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. When stealing becomes an addiction, it is named kleptomania.

Kleptomania refers to an impulse control disorder wherein you develop the power to withstand the urge to steal. Typically, you choose items that you just don't generally need and which might be often of little value. Although it's a rare condition, it could actually cause emotional distress for you and your family members.

The disorder is related to problems with self-control in behavior and emotions. When you will have an impulse control problem, you can't resist the temptation to do harmful or excessive things to yourself or other people. In addition, the disease forces you to live a secret life filled with shame because you're afraid to hunt medical help.

The causes of kleptomania are unknown. However, theories suggest that impulse imbalances within the brain are answerable for the condition. Further research is required to completely understand these possible causes.

The Brain opioid system. Theft addiction is more a few mental illness than a desire to achieve financially or materially. The stuff you steal are of little value and you possibly can easily afford them if you happen to paid for them.

This is in contrast to criminal theft, where you steal things because they're expensive or out of necessity. When your brain's opioid system becomes unbalanced, you develop a robust urge to steal, accompanied by fear, agitation, and tension.

Mixture of emotions. After the theft, you are feeling a sense of joy and relief. Sometimes it's possible you'll feel guilt or remorse after the crime but still cannot control the urge.

When you suffer from kleptomania, you are likely to steal alone and the habit arises spontaneously. In contrast, criminal thefts are well planned and also can affect other people. Additionally, once stolen items are stolen, you'll rarely use them and as a substitute give them away or stow them away.

Addiction disorders. Stealing could cause the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces nice feelings. Stealing triggers a pleasing feeling that, as an emotional or psychological feeling, compels you to do it repeatedly. The more you enjoy the push that comes with stealing, the more you need to use it to fill an emotional or physical void in your life.

Problems with serotonin. Serotonin is a natural brain chemical that helps regulate moods and emotions. When the brain doesn't have enough hormone levels, it causes you to develop impulsive behavior.

Mental problems: Theft might be attributable to low self-esteem, jealousy, depression, eating disorders, etc Peer pressure. Social problems resembling isolation and exclusion also can create an emotional emptiness. You may engage in impulsive behavior to say your independence or to derive pleasure from the motion. Sometimes it's because you need to go against family and friends.

You are also liable to developing kleptomania if you will have:

  • Family history: If a better half, resembling a parent or sibling, has obsessive-compulsive disorder, kleptomania, or substance use disorders, the chance of developing kleptomania may increase.
  • A mental illness: In most cases, individuals with kleptomania also suffer from other mental illnesses resembling an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder or an eating disorder. It may be attributable to a personality disorder or a substance use disorder.

If you suffer from kleptomania, you might have recurring urges to steal and be unable to regulate them. Other symptoms include:

  • Feelings of increased tension, excitement, or fear that result in theft
  • Feelings of guilt, self-hatred, remorse or shame after the theft
  • Feelings of relief, pleasure, or satisfaction when stealing
  • Unplanned, spontaneous theft

It is difficult to treat kleptomania alone and it's obligatory to hunt medical help. Treatment methods include a mix of medication and psychotherapy to handle the triggers and causes.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Therapists can make it easier to address the triggers that cause you to steal. The goal is to make it easier to stop harmful behavior through systematic desensitization and covert awareness techniques. Systematic desensitization involves practicing leisure techniques that help control the urge to steal. Covert awareness involves imagining that you're going to face negative consequences after a theft, allowing you to avoid the habit.
  • Medication: Your doctor may prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor to support the brain's chemical balance. Addiction medications can be prescribed to treat, but not cure, the condition.