Although fear, humiliation or embarrassment may make it hard for you to seek treatment for kleptomania, it's important to get help. Kleptomania is difficult to overcome on your own. Without treatment, kleptomania can be an ongoing, long-term condition.
Treatment of kleptomania typically involves medications and psychotherapy, sometimes along with self-help groups. However, there's no standard kleptomania treatment, and researchers are still trying to understand what may work best. You may have to try several types of treatment to find something that works well for you.
There's little scientific research about using psychiatric medications to treat kleptomania. And there is no FDA-approved medication for kleptomania. However, certain medications may help, depending on your situation and whether you have other mental disorders, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Your doctor may consider prescribing an antidepressant, specifically a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). An addiction medication called an opioid antagonist may reduce the urges and pleasure associated with stealing. Other medications may be considered as well.
If medication is prescribed, ask your doctor, mental health provider or pharmacist about potential side effects or possible interactions with any other medications.
A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones. Cognitive behavioral therapy may include these techniques to help you overcome kleptomania urges:
- Covert sensitization, in which you picture yourself stealing and then facing negative consequences, such as being caught
- Aversion therapy, in which you practice mildly painful techniques, such as holding your breath until you become uncomfortable, when you get an urge to steal
- Systematic desensitization, in which you practice relaxation techniques and picture yourself controlling urges to steal
It's not unusual to have relapses of kleptomania. To help avoid relapses, be sure to stick to your treatment plan. If you feel urges to steal, contact your mental health provider or reach out to a trusted person or support group.
Nov. 11, 2014
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