OBJECTIVE: The authors' objective was to provide phenomenologic, family
history, and treatment response data on a group of rigorously diagnosed
patients with kleptomania. METHOD: Twenty consecutive inpatients and
outpatients met DSM-III-R criteria for current kleptomania or a past
history of kleptomania. These patients were given structured diagnostic
interviews, and their family histories of psychiatric disorders were
assessed blindly. The patients' responses to psychosocial and biological
treatments were also assessed. RESULTS: All of the kleptomanic patients had
lifetime diagnoses of major mood disorders, 16 had lifetime diagnoses of
anxiety disorders, and 12 had lifetime diagnoses of eating disorders. A
high morbid risk of major mood disorders (0.31) was found in their
first-degree relatives. Ten of 18 patients receiving thymoleptic
medications reported reduction or remission of their stealing behavior.
CONCLUSIONS: Kleptomania may be related to major mood disorder and perhaps
may represent another form of "affective spectrum disorder."