The Emotional Toll of having Bedbugs

Having bedbugs is less than ideal. It can be a major inconvenience to have to potentially throw away some of your belongings, stay somewhere else, be covered in itchy, red bumps or simply know that you’re sharing your space with the pests.

Unfortunately, there is more than just a physical effect of having bedbugs.

On top of all of this, there is an emotional toll that comes from having bedbugs.

Bed bug shadow over pillow


According to research from doctors and researchers like Stéphane Perron and Jerome Goddard, bed bug infestations can leave people stressed, paranoid, depressed and anxious. Perron conducted a study in Montreal where he provided an assortment of people in Montreal with a questionnaire assessing their mental health. 39 of the respondents had bed bugs and 52 did not. The respondents with bed bugs reported way more sleep disturbances and anxiety.

Man in bed with bugs

Goddard conducted a study by examining entries on bed bug related websites. He cross-examined these posts with the symptoms of PTSD and found that a whopping 81 percent of the entries closely described symptoms associated with the disorder.

These symptoms included:

  1. Nightmares
  2. Hypervigilance to keep bugs away
  3. Flashbacks
  4. Avoidance behaviors
  5. Insomnia
  6. Personal dysfunction

There are a lot of independent and uncontrolled variables with studies like these. For example, the researchers do not have a comprehensive idea of the mental health of these respondents previous to their bed bug infestation.

As well, they cannot fully diagnose people with mental illnesses through questionnaires and posts on the Internet. More work needs to be done to determine the emotional toll of having bedbugs conclusively but it’s no secret that living with the vermin is not a walk in the park.

Women sad about having bed bugs


Another negative impact that contributes to the emotional toll of having bed bugs is the social stigma associated with it. Unfortunately, it is a popular conception that having bed bugs means you and your living space is “dirty.”

This could not be farther from the truth. Bed bugs do not discriminate based on cleanliness. Bedbugs exist in five-star hotel rooms, first-class airplane seats and luxury homes. These pests do not care about the conditions they live in, they solely care about hiding in the crevices around the room and getting their next meal.

This stigma leads to embarrassment, which causes people to not admit to having bed bugs to friends, family and even landlords. This is problematic because not only is it toxic to keep secrets, but bed bugs should be treated from the first time that you detect that you have them.

It is important to let your landlord know that you have bed bugs, as it may be partially their responsibility to help you can get rid of them. You can read more about your rights as a tenant with bed bugs here. As well, you should let the people closest to you know in case the bed bugs have travelled with you and you have given them to your friends and family.

Lease Agreement Form with pen, calculator

Coping with bed bugs

Having bed bugs can be anxiety-inducing and even traumatizing for some. There are solutions on how to deal with the stress. Try these methods out if you see one of the creepy crawlers in your house.

  1. First of all, know that you are not the first person to ever have bed bugs. You are not alone in this. People have had bed bugs for centuries and as aforementioned, you’re not “dirty” if you have them. Clear up some more bed bug myths by doing research.
  2. You might have trouble sleeping if you think bed bugs are crawling all over you so stay at a friend’s place or a hotel if it’s within your financial means.

Hotel room

  1. Remember that although bed bugs are unpleasant, they are not disease carriers. They can be distressing but they cannot kill you. The worst they can do is leave you with itchy bug bites.
  2. Lastly, contact an exterminator. If you do notice that you have bed bugs please do not attempt to exterminate them yourself covertly. There are a lot of extremely damaging toxins out there that yes, can kill bed bugs but also negatively impact your physical health.


It is imperative that you contact a professional like Bed Bug Exterminator Pro.

Additionally, if you notice that the bed bugs are taking an emotional toll, you may want to contact a psychologist or therapist. Just remember, there is no shame in getting bed bugs and no shame in getting help for mental health issues. Once you have gotten rid of the pesky critters, here are some tips on staying bed bug-free in the future so you can sleep soundly for once and for all.

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