The cause of kleptomania isn't known. Several theories that suggest that changes in the brain may be at the root of kleptomania. More research is needed to better understand these possible causes, but kleptomania may be:
Nov. 11, 2014
- Linked to problems with a naturally occurring brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate moods and emotions. Low levels of serotonin are common in people prone to impulsive behaviors.
- Related to addictive disorders, and stealing may cause the release of dopamine (another neurotransmitter). Dopamine causes pleasurable feelings, and some people seek this rewarding feeling again and again.
- Linked to the brain's opioid system. Urges are regulated by the brain's opioid system. An imbalance in this system could make it harder to resist urges.
- Kleptomania. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Sept. 3, 2014.
- Highlights of changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psychiatry.org/dsm5. Accessed Sept. 3, 2014.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2014. http://psychiatryonline.org/book.aspx?bookid=716. Accessed Sept. 3, 2014.
- Schreiber L, et al. Impulse control disorders: Updated review of clinical characteristics and pharmacological management. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2011;2:1.
- Talih FR. Kleptomania and potential exacerbating factors: A review and case report. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 2011;8:35.
- Hodgins DC, et al. Cognitive-behavioral treatment for impulse control disorders. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria. 2008;Suppl 1:S31.
- Grant JE, et al. Kleptomania: Clinical characteristics and relationship to substance use disorders. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2010;36:291.
- Kung S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 22, 2014.
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