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.
Use the information below to prepare for your first appointment and learn what to expect from the mental health provider.
What you can do:
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long. It will help the mental health provider to know what kinds of events seem to trigger your urge to steal.
- Write down key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any current, major stressors.
- Make a list of your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also write down the names of any medications or supplements you're taking.
- Take a trusted family member or friend along, if possible. It can be difficult to remember everything your mental health provider says, and a loved one can 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.
- Write down questions to ask your mental health provider in advance so that you can make the most of your appointment.
For kleptomania, some basic 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 will 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 take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your mental health provider
The mental health provider will likely ask you a number of questions to better understand your symptoms and how they're affecting your life. The mental health provider may ask:
Oct. 05, 2011
- 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 would you say your urge to steal is 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, including 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-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Aug. 22, 2011.
- Hollander E, et al. Impulse-control disorders not elsewhere classified. In: Hales RE, et al., eds. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C..: American Psychiatric Association; 2008.
- Grant JE. Understanding and treating kleptomania: New models and new treatments. Israeli Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences. 2006;43:81.
- Thompson JW Jr, et al. Impulse-control disorders. In: Ebert MH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=10. Accessed Aug. 22, 2011.
- Bayle FJ, et al. Psychopathology and comorbidity of psychiatric disorders in patients with kleptomania. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2003;160:1509.
- Grant JE, et al. Legal consequences of kleptomania. Psychiatry Quarterly. 2009;80:251.