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What Are the Different Types of Treatment for Kleptomania?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Different types of treatment for kleptomania, an impulse control disorder in which a person has urges to steal things that are of no personal or monetary value, include various types of medication and therapy. Since the exact cause of the disorder is unknown, there is no set treatment for kleptomania. For some, treatment might consist of a trial and error process in an attempt to find a solution that works to manage the disorder. Though there is little scientific evidence to verify that medication specifically treats kleptomania, certain types of medication seem to help manage the disorder, as well as other psychological conditions if they co-exist. With therapy, the person with the disorder is able to discuss and identify underlying psychological problems that might be causing or adding to the condition.

Antidepressants, addiction medications and mood stabilizers are a few examples of types of medications that might be useful when undergoing treatment for kleptomania. The most common antidepressants used to treat the disorder are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline. An addiction medication, such as naltrexone, might also be useful in kleptomania treatment by decreasing urges to steal, as well as pleasure derived from the act. To stabilize mood swings, lithium might help. By balancing mood, sudden and uneven shifts in mood are reduced, and thus the urge to steal might be reduced as well.

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Different forms of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy or family therapy, might also be helpful in treating kleptomania. Therapy can be one-on-one, with just the patient and the therapist, or it can be in a group setting with multiple people. In therapy, the patient is able to discuss and identify his disorder; he might discover underlying causes of his condition and learn to cope with urges to steal. For example, techniques he might practice when faced with the urge to steal are aversion therapy or systematic desensitization.

Kleptomania, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of problems such as emotional or legal troubles. A person with the disorder should seek treatment to avoid these complications, which include negative feelings towards one’s own self, such as guilt, humiliation and shame, as well as arrest, and destruction of relationships with others. It is important to know that even though a person seeks treatment for kleptomania, management of the disorder can be a tough undertaking. There is always the risk of a relapse, so being diligent and motivated towards recovery is necessary.

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