People commit theft in Nebraska for various reasons. Occasionally, those reasons are deeper than what is on the surface. A person could have undiagnosed kleptomania.

Psychology Today takes an immersive look into the definition, symptoms, causes and treatment of kleptomania. Criminal punishment is not what a person with a mental disorder or condition needs to make positive changes in her or his life. Getting to the root of the matter is always the best option.

Definition

Kleptomania is a mental condition in which a person has an uncontrollable urge to steal, but not for monetary gains. It is often unlikely for those with this particular condition to plan thefts, the person instead pilfering items on a whim. After stealing items, a kleptomaniac may either throw or give them away. Often, the person experiences guilt or depression about her or his unlawful actions.

Symptoms

How does a person know if she or he is likely a kleptomaniac? One symptom is wanting to take something one does not inherently need. Experiencing a sense of relief after committing theft is another common symptom, as is struggling with feelings of apprehension before stealing. Also, kleptomaniacs do not steal in response to anger or out of a desire for retribution.

Causes

Kleptomania is often linked to the existence of other mental conditions. For that reason, someone who thinks she or he is a kleptomaniac should consider whether she or he could be clinically depressed, anxious or bipolar. Additional conditions such as eating, personality, obsessive-compulsive and substance abuse disorders are not out of the realm of possibilities.

Treatment

Rather than a prison or another legal sentence, kleptomaniacs deserve proper mental treatment. Therapy and counseling often prove effective; cognitive-behavioral, family and behavior modification are some of the most popular. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are common medications used to treat the mental condition, helping to boost overall serotonin levels.