Kleptomania Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Kleptomaniac Diagnosis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Diagnosis, Shoplifting Diagnosis, Stealing Diagnosis, Borderline Personality Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Kleptomania Diagnosed?

It is often difficult to diagnose kleptomania since more often than not kleptomaniacs do not seek medical help for their condition. A diagnosis is often made when the patient tries to seek professional help for another mental disorder such as dysphoria, depression, bulimia, and emotional instability. Both physical and psychological evaluations are carried out when trying to diagnose any impulse control disorder, such as kleptomania. Physical evaluations provide a good assessment for any possible physical causes that can trigger the symptoms of kleptomania. Laboratory test are not significant when diagnosing kleptomania since the basis of diagnosis is actually based on the symptoms manifested by the patient.

Psychological evaluation can detect any history of relationship conflicts, acute stressors, poor parenting and other abrupt stressful events that can trigger the cause of the symptoms of kleptomaniacs.

Mental health professionals will ask their patients questions about any compulsion, obsessions, and impulses that they may have experienced, when they occur, how often they occur, and how they feel about committing the act of stealing. The patient will be asked to enumerate situations that can trigger the episodes of kleptomania. Patients are also asked to fill up questionnaires and/or self assessment tests.

Making a diagnosis of kleptomania includes exploring the common issues of conditions that are associated with the disorder, such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression and other mental health illnesses. The major source for diagnosing kleptomania is to meet the following criteria stated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder published by the American Psychiatric Association that all mental health professionals used to diagnose mental health disorders:

  • Increasing tension that leads up to the theft
  • Inability to resist the compulsion to steal objects, regardless of its monetary value
  • The act of stealing results in a feeling of gratification, relief, and pleasure.
  • The theft is committed not due to reasons of revenge or anger and the act is done free from the condition of hallucination and delusion
  • The act of stealing is not related to any manic episodes of mental disorders including antisocial personality disorder.

Psychologists need to differentiate kleptomania from shoplifting or any ordinary theft that can be due to:

  • Deliberate intention to steal
  • A result of a dare or rebellion
  • The monetary value of the stolen items

Early diagnosis is necessary to prevent the possible complications and the further development of other conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Arrest
  • Imprisonment
  • Anxiety
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Eating disorder
  • Compulsive gambling/shopping

Could You Have Kleptomania?

Kleptomania Topics

Related Conditions

Borderline Personality Disorder – Variable Moods, Split Personalities, Unstable Personality, Disturbed Sense of Self
Bulimia Nervosa – Anorexia, Binge Eating, Purging, Stress, Depression, Excessive Eating
Impulse Control Disorder – Pyromania, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Compulsion, Uncontrolled Impulse, Kleptomania
Intermittent Explosive Disorder – Uncontrolled Rage, Disruptive Behavior, Mood Disorder, Compulsive, Impulsive Disorder
Pyromania – Starting of Fire to Relieve Tension, Impulsive, Compulsive Behavior