Category Archives: OCD

Kleptomania: Compulsive Stealing Disorder

KleptomaniaHave you heard the word “shop-lifting” before? This is a common word used for the term “Kleptomania”. Have you come across a person stealing petty things in a shop or mall? Many a times such incidents are reported in daily newspapers and magazines. Sometimes the victims of it are locked up in jails and are ill-treated. Keeping the criminal offense aspect aside, it is noteworthy of knowing that kleptomania is a psychological ailment and its victims should be provided proper psychological treatment too.

A kleptomaniac is a person who helps himself because he can’t help himself.” – Henry Morgan

Kleptomania is a compulsive stealing disorder. The person suffering from it gets a strong urge to steal things. The urge is so strong that he/she cannot simply refrain from it or suppress it and ends up in stealing things. One astonishing thing that you need to know here is the things stolen by the person need not to be big or expensive. The person just steals it out of a powerful compulsion, even if the item is of personal use or not. But, folks! Kleptomania should not be confused with Theft or Act of Stealing. They are two different behaviors as a whole. Let me tell you the basic differences between Kleptomania and Stealing:

Stealing vs Kleptomania

STEALING KLEPTOMANIA
  • Taking something (another person’s belongings) without permission and without the intention of returning.
  • Compulsive urge to steal something.
  • Not a psychological disorder or clinical symptom.
  • Kleptomania is a clinical/psychological disorder. It is also mentioned in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
  • Intended for personal use or personal gain
  • The stolen thing may not be of personal use or for personal gain at all.
  • Theft is a deliberated and motivated action
  • Kleptomania is not a deliberate action. It is a lack of self-control, inability to resist the strong urge to steal
  • Things are stolen for personal benefit or for their monetary value
  • Monetary value or gain is usually not intended for in Kleptomania

Those were some of the important difference between the theft and kleptomania. There is a thin line of difference pertaining the clinical symptom aspects, intention and usage properties. Kleptomania is stealing only to satisfy the urge or powerful compulsion. It does not include any monetary gain, personal benefit and so on.

So, how can you know that whether a person has kleptomania or not? Here are some of the important clinical symptoms of Kleptomania:

Symptoms of Kleptomania

  • Anxiety
  • Repetitive and recurrent thoughts about stealing
  • Lack of impulse control or inability to control the urge of stealing
  • Compulsive thoughts
  • Relieve of compulsive tension after stealing
  • Feelings of guilt, stress and remorse

For an appropriate and correct diagnosis of Kleptomania, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) has laid the following diagnostic criteria:

  • Repeated inability to defend against urges to steal things that are not essential for private use or for their economic value;
  • Escalating sense of pressure immediately prior to performing the theft;
  • Satisfaction, fulfillment or relief at the point of performing the theft;
  • The theft is not executed to convey antagonism or revenge, and is not in reaction to a delusion or a fantasy; and
  • The thieving is not better accounted for by behavior disorder, a manic episode, or antisocial personality disorder.

Kleptomania is also said to be sometimes co-morbid with other psychological disorders like anxiety, stress, substance abuse disorder, mood swings, eating disorders and alcohol abuse. You will be amazed to know that there was a time when Kleptomania was linked with the wealthy lady shoplifters. It was a stereotypical thinking mostly during the 2oth century theft in departmental stores. However, in the present times the clinical implications of Kleptomania have changed greatly. Now, gradually clinicians, researchers and the society are coming up in understanding the concept of Kleptomania and its psychiatric perspective. Now let us look into some of the treatment interventions available to treat Kleptomania:

Treatment of Kleptomania

Kleptomania is treated with an amalgamation of treatment interventions. It yields best treatment outcomes when pharmacological interventions and psychological therapies are used together. Anti-anxiety drugs plus Cognitive Behavioral Therapies are seen to have the most effective results in the treatment of Kleptomania.

OCD: Prevention, Management and Treatment Procedures

ocd_treatment

Hi all! Hope you have read my previous blog post  “OCD: An Overview”. Today we will learn on how OCD can be prevented, managed and treated.  Let us see the various ways in which OCD can be prevented:

OCD Prevention

  • Learn good coping skills to different life transitions
  • Maintain a good lifestyle, balanced diet and exercise regime
  • Take things with ease, in a cool and composed manner. Do not get overly stressed out or too much anxious on things and situations
  • De-stressing exercises, anti-anxiety exercises, meditation, mindfulness meditation, hobbies, walking, socializing are some of the good ways of keeping unnecessary and unwanted thoughts at bay.
  • Routine health check-up of oneself and family
  • Living a moment/day at once and not getting worried about the future/unknown
  • Abstinence from too much alcohol etc
  • A healthy balance of physical, mental and social life.

It is normal to wash hands if they are dirty, it is normal to double-check door locks and electric switches…but if you tend to overdo it again and again, then it can paralyze your daily life-functioning. The major problem in OCD is to break free from the shackles of compulsions. Paying heed to the orders of obsessions and doing compulsions repetitively can crumple your energy levels, physiological functioning, mental equilibrium, social life and your life as a whole. That is why it is very important to recognize OCD and take proper treatment for it right from its very inception. Following are some of the management and treatment techniques used for OCD. They are best effective when imparted by a mental health practitioner. Once you start the treatment regime for OCD under the supervision of your mental health professional, then you can start with some self-help techniques too.

Treatment Interventions in OCD

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: The best therapy technique for OCD by far. You can opt for CBT in a face-to-face setting or on a virtual basis too. If you are a working professional, stay in a remote area, want to avoid unnecessary discomfort of traveling then you can opt for online/virtual CBT. CBT helps you with reconstruction of adaptive forms of thinking and behavior. It works in an all-round way.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy is also a widely used technique. It is effective in mild to moderate levels of OCD.
  • ERP or Exposure and Response Prevention: This is like a switch on-off technique. In this form of therapy your therapist would expose you to the source of your obsession repeatedly and you would need to refrain or abstain from your compulsion/compulsive act.
  • Pharmacological Interventions: In some cases pharmacological treatment or medications are also necessary. Usually anti-anxiety and anti-obsessional medications are prescribed after in-depth symptom evaluation, assessment and diagnosis.
  • Milieu Therapy: It is a form of group therapy. It is done in group settings only after your consent.

If you know what to do in the right way and at the right time then neither OCD nor any other ailment can bother you and hinder your healthy living. So keep yourself calm, cool and composed; psycho-educate yourself and march forward in each and every step of your life.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

OCD – an overview of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD - an overview

If you are someone who is constantly checking switches, cylinder knob, door locks; washing hands and feet over and over again for fear of contamination; or if you do a ritualistic behavior for a certain number of times…then this blog post is for you. OCD, the full-form of this acronym is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is an anxiety disorder in which repetitive obsessive thoughts compel you to do repetitive behavior, termed as compulsion. The medical definition of OCD is: “a psychoneurotic disorder in which the patient is beset with obsessions or compulsions or both and suffers extreme anxiety or depression through failure to think the obsessive thoughts or perform the compelling acts.”

OCD starts with a small anxiety then slowly and slowly it intensifies and interferes in your daily life functioning. For some, the ritualistic behaviors become so automated that they don’t even realize that they have OCD. Following are some of the core signs and symptoms of OCD:

Obsessions Compulsions
Feelings of fear and apprehension that something might go wrong Getting compelled to perform certain ritual behaviors to avoid the things from going wrong
Fear of contamination from germs, other people, diseases, etc Constantly washing hands, checking door locks, etc
Constant fear of harming self and others Excessively checking for one’s safety and safety of near and dear ones
Getting highly superstitious and under the influence of blind beliefs Performing ritual behaviors again and again, many times a day
Excessive striving for order, symmetry and perfection Keeping things in perfect order, getting anxious or reacting even in a slight deviation in things

For some people OCD can be a minor case to handle but for some it is a very hard issue to handle on an everyday basis. It literally churns you to the core. The frustration of performing the compulsions is very grueling. The worst sufferers are the persons themselves and their care-takers too. OCD can arise due to genetic factors, situational variants, neurochemical disturbances in the brain, faulty coping to life’s stressors and pressures and so on. There are certain categories of OCD behaviors. They are as follows:

  • Washers: Constantly wash or clean their hands/legs for fear of contamination.
  • Checkers: Keep on double checking, rechecking doors, locks, switches, etc for fear of impending danger.
  • Doubters: Keep on doubting whether or not everything is OK. If not, they can go to any limits to make everything OK.
  • Sinners: They fear that they will be punished if something goes wrong.
  • Arrangers: Keeping everything in a well-arranged manner, in certain numbers or unique patterns are the main characteristics of arrangers. If something goes amiss in the arrangement they will keep on arranging things over and over again.
  • Perfectionists: They strive for perfection in anything and everything.
  • Hoarders: Hoarders never throw anything. They fear that if they throw away certain things then something bad will happen.

So folks from the above examples it is quite obvious that the root of OCD is anxiety. If this basic anxiety is rooted out from the thoughts then more than half of the battle against OCD will be won. If you or any of your near and dear ones experience OCD symptoms then please don’t ignore it. OCD can aggravate into more acute as well as chronic phases if not treated in a timely manner. Just don’t overlook it or take it carelessly.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta