Bed bugs are not something that most people think about until they actually find them in their home. If you’ve had a bed bug infestation or you’re currently dealing with one, then you know it’s one of the most distressing times of your life.
Although you will win the battle against these pests, what is more worrying is the long-term impact they can have on your mental health long after you’ve got rid of them. So let’s look at how bed bugs can cause anxiety and what you can do.
How Did These Pests Find Their Way Into Your Home?
One of the most important aspects of dealing with bed bugs is finding out how you got them originally so you can prevent bringing them back in and having to deal with them all over again.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are experts at hiding away inside the smallest cracks without you knowing they’re there at first. There are various ways they are brought home with you, but the main way is through travel.
- If you’ve stayed in a hotel, on a cruise ship, or even at a friend’s house and they’ve got bed bugs then they can easily hitch a ride in your luggage or backpack.
- Public transport is also another potential way you could pick up a bed bug if it crawls onto your clothing or into your bag.
- Bringing used furniture (especially wooden) into your home is another common route. They hide inside cracks and crevices and won’t be seen unless you really look for them.
- Moving into an apartment that already has bed bugs is reported more often now.
These are just some of the ways they get in and once you’ve had them you’ll always be on the lookout for them.
Physical symptoms of bed bugs
Once these blood-sucking pests are in your property, it won’t be long before you start to notice their presence.
If you aren’t sure of the signs of an infestation, then the how to tell if you have bed bugs page details exactly what to look for and where.
This parasite needs human blood to live and reproduce, so one of the first signs of bed bugs can be small red bumps or welts that appear on your body. The bed bug bites themselves aren’t painful but they can itch like crazy!
Despite this, not everyone reacts to the bites, so you might notice other evidence such as black dots that look like dried ink on your bedding, mattress, and box spring.
Psychological Effect of Bed Bugs
The physical symptoms such as the bite marks and the itching are bad enough, but these will go away and certainly lessen as the bed bugs die off. But it’s the psychological impact that can be far worse after having an infestation that lots of people experience and struggle with.
Can Bed Bugs Affect Your Mental Health?
Yes, they definitely can. Having a bed bug infestation can mentally and emotionally push you to the limit.
The physical and financial side of it is enough to have to deal with, but the mental and emotional aspects such as feeling paranoid, overwhelmed, not feeling safe in your own home, and lack of sleep all build up over time causing anxiety and make having a bed bug problem much worse than it needs to be.
Delusory parasitosis is also often associated with an infestation, where you think you feel the bugs crawling on you or you think you see them crawling in your home, except that there is nothing really there. I’ve seen this numerous times in the pest control industry.
A study was carried out that looked at online postings about bed bugs and their effects and out of the 135 posts analyzed, 110 (81%) reported that being bitten by bed bugs and having an infestation had caused significant emotional distress.
The aftereffects of having bed bugs were “nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance (to keep the bugs away), insomnia, anxiety, avoidance behaviors, and personal dysfunction. These symptoms are suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).“
Staying Bed Bug-Free and Stop Worrying About Bed Bugs
First and foremost, you should never feel embarrassed about having bed bugs. They are far more common than you think and they have nothing to do with the cleanliness of your home.
The psychological impact of having these pests can make you feel isolated and it isn’t something that people tend to talk about, but it does exist and it’s important to understand how it can affect you.
Whether you’re trying to get rid of bed bugs or you’ve eradicated them, it’s normal to feel worried and anxious for a time about whether they’ve completely gone, especially if you haven’t dealt with anything similar before.
But the fear of having bed bugs shouldn’t take over your life. Yes, they can be hard to get rid of but they are not impossible to get rid of.
Eliminating these parasites and carrying out bed bug treatments is something pest control companies successfully do every day.
You can do your part in controlling bed bugs by:
- Learning how to spot the signs of an infestation
- Vacuuming your mattress and box spring, and other upholstered furniture such as the couch. Keep your room and under your bed clutter-free so they have nowhere to hide—what kills bed bugs permanently explains how to do this step-by-step.
- Install bed bug interceptor traps under each leg of the bed and monitor them regularly.
- Put your mattress, box spring, and pillows in protective bedbug-proof encasements.
Knowing how you got bed bugs in the first place will help you prevent bringing them back in.
Don’t go through it alone, join an online forum and connect with other people who have been in the same situation as you and see how they have coped. A great bed bug forum to look at is reddit.com/r/Bedbugs/.
Alternatively, seek professional help from your GP for any anxiety symptoms if you start to feel too overwhelmed.
If you have just found proof you have bed bugs or you think they are back in your home, call a pest control company to eliminate them. It won’t be cheap, but it’s worth it for peace of mind. Do your research and get recommendations. Read choosing an exterminator so you know how to choose the right one and what questions to ask.
The emotional effects of having bed bugs can be traumatizing but always keep in mind that it is going to end and it is only temporary.