The first step in treating kleptomania for a person who suffers from it is to admit that help is needed. Once admission of that fact is done, treatment, through either medication or therapy, can be started.
Kleptomania, a disorder that impairs an individual’s impulse control, is a condition where a person has an irresistible desire to steal things that more often than not have little or no value. Treatment, however, can be problematic due to a person’s apprehension, embarrassment and fear. This is compounded by the fact that no standard treatment for the disorder has been established and researchers are still trying to determine which treatment protocol usually works best.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment for Kleptomania
In the past, the treatment for kleptomania revolved around insight–oriented therapy, a type of therapy designed to deal with psychological problems that may trigger a person to steal. Just recently, cognitive behavioral therapy became the choice of treatment in terms of therapy for kleptomania. Cognitive behavioral therapy assists in the identification of negative beliefs and once identification is achieved, the process of replacing the negative beliefs with positive ones begins.
Cognitive behavioral therapy includes covert sensitization, aversion therapy, and systematic desensitization, which are techniques that may help a person resist the urge to steal. Convert sensitization is visualizing yourself stealing and then being caught and having to face the consequences. Aversion therapy involves making yourself uncomfortable when you feel the desire to steal. Systematic desensitization involves putting techniques into place for relaxation to help control and subdue the desire to steal.
Treatment through Medication
Should therapy be ineffective in treating the kleptomania, one can turn to medication, but be reminded that the perfect psychiatric medication for kleptomania hasn’t been formulated yet. A person undergoing medication therapy must take into consideration such factors as the person’s overall condition, side effects that may be experienced, and the person’s lifestyle. A combination of different medications may also be prescribed.
Medications that are being used in the treatment of kleptomania include antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), fluoxetine and paroxetine among others. Other types of medication that can be used are mood stabilizers such as Eskalith or Lithobid. A person can also use tranquilizers such as clonezapam or alprazolam, but these can be addictive causing dependence on the medication. Anti–seizure medicines like topimarate and valproic acid can also be used, along with addiction medications such as Naltrexone.
As of yet, the perfect treatment for kleptomania hasn’t been discovered and not all medications or therapy are guaranteed to work so relapses are not uncommon. Should you feel yourself going into relapse, just continue with your treatment plan and reach out to support groups for assistance.