msnbc.com 7/27/2010 A real nightmare: Bed Bugs Biting all over U.S.
The tiny, sneaky insects are spreading so rapidly across the United States that almost no region or area is unbitten, a new survey suggests. Calls to exterminators nationwide about bed bugs are up 57 percent nationwide in the last five years, according to a new survey by the National Pest Management
The Psychological Effects of Bedbugs
Arguably one of the worst things about having a bedbug infestation is the lasting psychological effects it seems to have on many people. In fact, since bedbugs aren’t proven to pose a physical threat, considering not many people have severe allergic reactions to their bites (prompting emergency medical attention), and they are not known to carry diseases transmittable to humans, the main threat they pose is psychological to people. Yes, their bites are very itchy... but mosquitoes don’t seem to have the same effect to people’s emotions. However, this does not make the experience of having a bedbug infestation anything less than terrible.
One of the first psychological effects that bedbugs will have is a deep sense of anxiety. Having bedbugs is a huge hassle, and there is much anxiety involved with the breaking up of your daily routine to incorporate a huge overhaul of your entire home. Not to mention the hours spent cleaning, laundering, packing things up and throwing other things out is exhausting and can be emotional too. This is an extremely stressful
event as it’s in no way planned.
Remember when you are stressed to take care of yourself. Try to see or call friends and reach out for support.
Shame and Embarrassment
There is a stigma attached to having bedbugs, as it is perceived as affecting poor or dirty neighbourhoods. Many bedbug sufferers are afraid of being “found out”, as though they are hiding a dirty shame, however any neighbourhood, irrespective of socio-economic class is effected by bedbugs. Bedbugs have nothing to do with YOU
(they just happen to like your blood). The only thing that is shameful when it comes to bedbugs is if you fail to act on an infestation and allow it to get out of control. So, if you are dealing with a bedbug crisis in a responsible manner and keeping your cool, you should be very proud of yourself.
"Crawling Skin" and "Phantom Itching"
A common symptom during and after a bedbug attack is the sensation that you have something lightly crawling over your skin. No, you are not going crazy...this is tends to happen to many people. Anxiety itself is a trigger for the sensation of your skin crawling, particularly at night. Add this to the fact that the anxiety is caused by something creepy-crawly only adds to the sensation. If this sensation persists repeatedly for an extended period of time (more than a week) you should definitely make an appointment with a doctor.
Even months or years after an infestation has been treated, the paranoia that bedbugs will return lingers with many people. Frantic under-the-bed checks looking for bedbug carcases, inspecting every speck of dust on the mattress, and cautiously killing every minute thing that moves. Being cautious is fine, but it should not take over your life. Take a step back and see if you are acting irrationally. There are support groups for people who have or have had bedbugs. Don’t think that “it’s just silly” and that you are alone. Many people have a bedbug paranoia, and together you can learn to bond with others and relax, laugh a little at yourself and take control again.