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Kleptomania and pathological gambling (PG) are currently classified in the DSM IV as impulse control disorders. Impulse control disorders are characterized by an overwhelming temptation to perform an act that is harmful to the person or others. The patient usually feels a sense of tension before committing the act and then experiences pleasure or relief while in the process of performing the act. Kleptomania and PG are often associated with other comorbid psychiatric diagnoses. Forty-four pathological gamblers and 19 kleptomanics were included in this study. All enrolled patients underwent a complete diagnostic psychiatric evaluation and were examined for symptoms of depression and anxiety using the Hamilton depression rating scale and the Hamilton anxiety rating scale, respectively. In addition, the patients completed self-report questionnaires about their demographic status and addictive behavior. The comorbid lifetime diagnoses found at a high prevalence among our kleptomanic patients included 47% with affective disorders (9/19) and 37% with anxiety disorders (7/19). The comorbid lifetime diagnoses found at a high prevalence in our sample of pathological gamblers included 27% with affective disorders (12/44), 21% with alcohol abuse (9/44), and 7% with a history of substance abuse (3/44). A larger study is needed to confirm these preliminary results.
Kleptomania is classified in the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) ICD-10 (Code F63.2) under the heading of habit and impulse disorders together with pathological gambling, pyromania, and trichotillomania. Individuals with kleptomania typically suffer from emotional distress and/or impaired functioning in social and occupational areas. Kleptomania has occasionally been reported to stem from neurological disorders. The emotional distress, stress, potential marital conflict, arrests, and jail time associated with kleptomania undoubtedly diminish patients' quality of life (QOL). Kleptomania patients are highly likely to suffer from comorbid psychiatric disorders, most notably mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, other impulse control disorders, and alcohol and other psychoactive substance abuse/dependence disorders. Clonazepam and alprazolam have been reported to produce partial success in treating kleptomania. Over the past 50 years, the treatment approach toward kleptomania has shifted away from psychodynamic therapy. Cognitive-behavioral interventions have been reported to help in individual cases.