Bed Bugs & PTSD

Research Shows That Suffering Through A Bed Bug Infestation Can Trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Some people experience bed bug infestations within a matter of weeks, or even days after moving into a new house or apartment. At first, people many people notice a few bed bugs here and there, but within a short time, large congregations of bed bugs appear in corners, cracks in furniture, and particularly around beds. Those who live within apartment units sometimes need to provide samples of bed bug pests found in their units before a landlord will hire a pest control professional to eradicate the pests. It does not take long for just a few bed bugs to proliferate into hundreds, and in the most severe cases, thousands of bed bugs. If the services of a pest control professional are not sought out, or if a resident hopes to eradicate infestations by themselves, then infestations will certainly reach physically and even psychologically damaging proportions within a home.

Many who experience bed bug infestations live with the insects before realizing that they have fallen victim to a bed bug infestation. It is not uncommon for infestation victims to lose significant amounts of sleep at night due to bed bug bites, and many victims have reported that infestations destroyed their social lives, as their friends no longer wanted to visit their homes, and for good reason. In some cases, people who live in bed bug-infested conditions for long periods of time begin seeing bed bugs in areas of their home where no bed bugs are present. There is no doubt a stigma associated with bed bug infestations, and while it is well known that bed bugs inflict irritating wounds, researchers have documented several cases of people who developed emotional trauma in response to experiencing particularly stubborn infestations.

Symptoms of bed bug trauma include severe anxiety, sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, obsessiveness, and hypervigilance that closely resemble post traumatic stress disorder. According to Jerome Goddard, a medical entomologist at Mississippi State University, most people who suffer through bed bug infestations experience lasting psychological issues as a result. According to Goddard’s research, of the 135 people he surveyed who experienced a bed bug infestation, 81 percent suffered lasting psychological symptoms including paranoia about bed bugs returning, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, and heightened anxiety. A minority even experience flashbacks when reminded of bed bugs. For example, some who have experienced infestations suffer distressing flashbacks when locating a spot on the floor that resembles a bed bug. The psychological trauma often caused by bed bug infestations has only recently become a subject of research, but it provides another good reason to contact a pest control professional as quickly as possible upon finding bed bugs within a home.

Have you, or anyone you know experienced lasting mental health problems in response to having suffered through bed bug infestations?

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