Dealing with a bed bug infestation can be expensive from a financial standpoint. You will be faced with extermination costs and potentially replacing infested beds or furniture. Not to mention, hotel and dining costs while your home undergoes treatment to eliminate these dreaded pests. However, these are only the monetary costs involved in a bed bug infestation and don’t even begin to cover the other emotional costs.
A Horror Movie Coming to Life
If you are not familiar with bed bugs, then be prepared for the plot of a horror movie coming to life. As night falls, you snuggle into your warm bed and fall into a blissful slumber. However, as you sleep insects start to creep out from your baseboards, behind the wallpaper, and even around electrical outlets. The bed bugs make their way up the legs of your bed, across your bedsprings, and under your covers to nestle against your warm skin. They bite you, but you won’t even feel it because their bite includes an anesthetic that numbs the wound so they can suck your blood without waking you. Once they are well-fed, they scurry back to their hiding spot before dawn. You wake up with welts, itchy bites, and likely anguish when you realize that you have bed bugs.
When you find out that you have a bed bug infestation, you may feel embarrassed and worried about what your friends, family, and acquaintances will think if they learn that your home is infested with insects. What if they think you are unclean or a bad housekeeper? Most people try to keep the fact that they have bed bugs hidden from everyone that they know. Many even lie and say they are going away for a holiday while their house undergoes treatment.
Anxiety and Sleep Disorders
Dr. Stéphane Perron, a researcher at the University of Montreal, recently undertook a study by sending out questionnaires to residents of apartment complexes that had suffered bed bug infestations. The questions revealed that after suffering from an infestation most people experienced anxiety and sleep problems.
Bed Bugs Linked to Numerous Psychological Conditions
Another study was undertaken by Medical Entomologist Jerome Goddard of the Mississippi State University. His results revealed that people who had lived through a bed bug infestation experienced paranoia, hypervigilance, depression, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts. One patient that Dr. Goddard studied attained a score that indicated he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of his trauma with bed bugs.
One far-reaching study sent out hundreds of questionnaires to various cities to study the reaction that people had following bed bug bites. They found that many suffered from insomnia, emotional distress, and ongoing anxiety.
Bed Bugs Create Stress in Peoples’ Lives
Many people are skeptical of such studies because they claim that the researchers are unable to evaluate the person’s prior mental condition before they suffered a bed bug infestation. However, regardless of a person’s previous mental issues, living through a bed bug infestation and extermination is an obvious stressor that would not make any mental condition easier.
Why are Bed Bugs Different from Other Bugs?
Mankind has been plagued by biting insects for centuries. Mosquitoes, ticks, ants, fleas, and wasps regularly attack people, but they don’t shake their world emotionally. What sets bed bugs apart from other bugs? Why do these tiny insects take such an emotional toll on their human victims? Many hypotheses exist, but the bottom line is bed bugs make people feel vulnerable. They attack when you are sleeping, and they suck your life’s blood without you even knowing.
Vampires and Bed Bugs
Some theorists believe part of the power bed bugs can have over us emotionally is due to their remarkable similarity to mythical vampires. These half-dead creatures attack sleeping humans and feed on their blood. Think about how many scary movies have been based on vampires and you can clearly see how a fear of bed bugs could evolve.
Children and Bed Bugs
If a child is exposed to bed bugs and suffers’ bites it is common for them to develop an aversion to all insects. Many toddlers will refuse to sleep alone after the traumatic event. In some cases, parents must seek mental help for their children to overcome this and learn coping mechanisms.
How to Overcome the Emotional Damage of Bed Bugs
Here are just a few ways to prevent and overcome the emotion hurdles caused by bed bugs:
- Prompt Treatment: If you suspect that you have bed bugs, it is imperative that you do not delay treatment. The sooner you eliminate the unwanted house guests from your abode the better.
- Learn About the Enemy: You might mistakenly believe that you have suffered from bed bugs due to poor cleaning or personal hygiene. However, learning about bed bugs will help you overcome any misunderstandings. There is nothing wrong with your home or yourself. Bed bugs can infiltrate even pristine locations.
- Seek Mental Help: Do not be ashamed to seek mental help if you are having a tough time coping with the fact that bed bugs invaded your home.
The actual cost of bed bugs is often hidden mental issues, phobias, and fears that can start to dominate your life. Knowing this can enable you to be sympathetic to those who have endured an infestation and prepare you in the case you ever experience an infestation yourself.
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