If you struggle with an irresistible urge to steal, call your doctor. Making that call will undoubtedly be scary, but trust that your doctor is interested in caring for your health, not in judging you. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider, such as a psychiatrist, with experience diagnosing and treating kleptomania.
Here's some information to help you get ready and know what to expect from your doctor or mental health provider.
What you can do:
To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long
- Key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any current, major stressors
- Your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed
- All medications you're taking, including any vitamins or other supplements, and the dosages
- Questions to ask your mental health provider so that you can make the most of your appointment
Take a trusted family member or friend along, if possible to help remember the details. In addition, someone who has known you for a long time may be able to ask questions or share information with the mental health provider that you don't remember to bring up.
For kleptomania, some questions to ask your mental health provider include:
- Why can't I stop stealing?
- What treatments are available?
- What treatments are most likely to work for me?
- How quickly might I stop stealing?
- Will I still feel the urge to steal?
- How often do I need therapy sessions and for how long?
- Would family therapy be helpful in my case?
- Are there medications that can help?
- What are the possible side effects of these medications?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your mental health provider
To better understand your symptoms and how they're affecting your life, your mental health provider may ask:
Nov. 11, 2014
- At what age did you first experience an irresistible urge to steal?
- How often do you experience the urge to steal?
- Have you ever been caught or arrested for stealing?
- How would you describe your feelings before, during and after you steal something?
- What kinds of items do you steal? Are they things you need?
- From whom do you steal?
- What do you do with the items you steal?
- Does anything in particular seem to trigger your urge to steal?
- How is your urge to steal affecting your life, including school, work and personal relationships?
- Have any of your close relatives had a problem with compulsive stealing or with other mental health conditions such as depression, addiction or obsessive-compulsive disorder?
- Have you been treated for any other mental health problems, such as eating disorders? If yes, what treatments were most effective?
- Do you use alcohol or illegal drugs? How often?
- Are you currently being treated for any other medical conditions?
- 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.