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:

  • 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.
Nov. 11, 2014

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