Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

When you decide to seek treatment for symptoms of possible kleptomania, you may have both a physical and psychological evaluation. The physical exam can determine if there may be any physical causes triggering your symptoms.

There's no laboratory test to diagnose kleptomania. Instead, kleptomania is diagnosed based on your signs and symptoms. Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder. In addition to asking questions about your impulses and how they make you feel, your doctor may review a list of situations to see if they trigger kleptomania episodes. You may also fill out psychological questionnaires or self-assessments to help pinpoint a diagnosis.

To be diagnosed with kleptomania, you must meet criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment. Criteria for a kleptomania diagnosis include:

  • You have an inability to resist urges to steal objects that aren't needed for personal use or monetary value
  • You feel increasing tension leading up to the theft
  • You sense feelings of pleasure, relief or gratification during the act of stealing
  • The theft isn't committed as a way to exact revenge or to express anger, and isn't done while hallucinating or delusional
  • The stealing isn't related to manic episodes of bipolar disorder or other mental health disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder
Oct. 05, 2011