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May 2, 2023

Bed Bugs and Mental Health: The Unseen Battle

                Bed Bugs and Mental Health: The Unseen Battle

No one likes to spend much time thinking about bed bugs. The idea of them crawling over our skin as we sleep can be enough to make us feel phantom legs around our ankles and send shivers up our spines. Of course, while the itchy, red bites they can cause may be the most apparent health concern, the biggest toll on our health may be mental. 

Health Department studies and news stories have shown that the stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep caused by long-term bed bug infestations can lead to significant emotional and psychological problems. While bites are unpleasant, it’s not believed that they harm us long-term; the long-lasting psychological effects are more detrimental to our well-being.

Need an overview of what bed bugs are? Read our guide here

The Mental Toll of Bed Bug Infestations

  1. Anxiety and Stress

Imagine having bed bugs in your home - how do you feel? Those who have experienced infestations and been forced to live with them report a constant fear of being bitten, feeling unable to relax at home and feelings of embarrassment. 

  1. Sleep Deprivation
The benefits of sleep cannot be exaggerated; it gives our bodies time to rest and restore and helps our minds hit the reset button before tackling another busy day. However, those living with bed bugs find that the fear of being bitten makes it challenging to fall asleep and find deep sleep. Many people stop sleeping in their beds and instead sleep on the floor, where bed bugs are less likely. 
In bad cases, this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality, contributing to a host of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment.
  1. Social Isolation
Understandably, those experiencing a bed bug infestation feel socially isolated. They feel embarrassed about the situation and avoid inviting anyone into their home. They often avoid any social setting where they may spread bed bugs to others, leading them to avoid face-to-face interaction at all costs. 
Social connections are a crucial element of maintaining good well-being. As we learned during the pandemic, any disruption to our regular social interactions can cause us to feel isolated and anxious. 
  1. Financial Strain
As we all know, our financial health directly impacts our physical, mental, and emotional health. Many marriages have disintegrated under the pressure of financial strain. So it should come as no surprise that a bed bug infestation for those worried about affording the costs of a bed bug treatment may end up living with the bugs longer than they should. In some cases, the treatment even needs to be repeated to ensure the bed bugs are eradicated.
Fortunately, while bed bugs are developing a resistance to chemical treatments, heat treatments are much more effective. They can often eliminate the problem with a single treatment, making it much more affordable. 
  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Although it may seem extreme, many individuals who have experienced severe bed bug infestations develop symptoms of PTSD. A review by health entomologists of 135 online posts about infestations found that 81% of posts suggested the writer had at least one symptom of PTSD. The psychological distress caused by the infestation leads to long-lasting effects, such as recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts. 

Protecting Yourself from Bed Bugs and Their Psychological Effects 

It’s crucial to avoid a long-term infestation to avoid both the unpleasantness of bed bug bites and the long-lasting psychological effects. One of the most cost-effective ways to deal with an infestation is to rent a heat treatment package and perform the treatment yourself. To find your closest provider, click here

If you’re in a situation where bed bug infestations are likely, such as having a family member who travels a lot, you may find purchasing your own homeowner heat treatment package is a more cost-effective option. 

To see our homeowner options, click here


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