Dealing with anxiety about bedbugs

How to handle the stress of a bedbug infestation

When you have bedbugs (and even for a long time afterward), it can feel like they’ve taken over your whole world. It’s all that you can think about when you’re at home. You imagine that you can feel them crawling all over you and biting you, even when you’re certain that they are not. You lay awake at night, afraid to go to sleep and wake up with new bites. You can’t stop thinking about all of the things that you need to do to get rid of them.

And even after you have taken care of it, you find yourself wondering nonstop if you got them all. Did you miss any that are going to breed and bring you right back to square one? Or are you going to get them again? You think about that at work. On the train. In a taxi. At friend’s houses.

The anxiety even makes vacations and traveling less fun. How do you know if the plane or the hotel has bedbugs? Did you do all of that work just to bring them back home again? How can anyone enjoy a trip with all of this on their mind?

bedbug stress

Bedbugs can even change your life in ways you might not have expected. I knew a book lover that threw away her entire book collection when she moved out of an apartment that turned out to have bedbugs. Even once she moved somewhere new and confirmed that there was no longer an infestation, it was years before she allowed herself to collect any books once again.

So how do you let it not get to you? Is there any hope of getting past the bedbug anxiety? Bedbugs can take a toll on your mental health. People dealing with active bedbug infestations report:

  • Social anxiety, including avoiding friends and family
  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety and depression, or exascerbation of exiting mental health issues
  • Obsessiveness
  • Overwhelming stress

The good news is that it does go away, eventually. And others have felt the same way that you do now, and you can learn from them.

bedbug anxiety

Dealing with bedbug anxiety

Some folks prefer to call an exterminator and put it out of their minds altogether. Others find that having a hand in dealing with the issue allows them to feel more in control. If taking action helps you deal with stress, read this guide on how to get rid of bedbugs yourself.

One of the worst parts of bedbug anxiety is the sleepless nights. The fact that you are under attack in your own bed, the one place you are supposed to feel safest, is a horrible feeling. And unfortunately, sleeping on the couch won’t help (the bedbugs can still find you there, and you run the risk of spreading the infestation to other areas of the house, making it harder to treat). That’s why one of the best ways of dealing with the stress of bedbugs is to make your bed a safe place again.
Bedbug proof mattress covers and bed post interceptors can help isolate your bed from the bedbugs, giving you peace of mind. You still have to treat the rest of the house to get rid of them entirely, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Having a safe haven in your bedroom goes a long way towards preserving your sanity.

Talk to somebody about it. We know that you may feel like hiding from your friends and coworkers so you’re not treated like a leper. You may be mortified that they will see bites on your skin or discover you itching. But chances are, you know someone else who has had to deal with a bedbug problem. And if you absolutely can’t bring yourself to talk to anyone in your real life about it, there are tons of people online who are willing to lend an ear. Check out the subreddit /r/bedbugs, for example. Sometimes, venting to someone else that has been in exactly the same position as you can be extremely healing.

bedbug mental health

Bedbugs can make you feel incredibly stigmatized. But just keep in mind that they are a very common problem. Someone else in your life may also be dealing with a bedbug problem that they are also keeping a secret. It’s also important to remember that bedbugs do not mean that your house is a mess or that you are in any way unclean. Unlike cockroaches, bedbugs are not attracted to squalor. All bedbugs need in order to feel at home is a mammal to feed on. So they can literally happen to anyone, even if they live in the cleanest of houses. Don’t feel that it reflects poorly on you in any way.

Other than this, the best ways of dealing with anxiety about bedbugs are the same ways that you would deal with any other kind of stress:

Here are some additional resources that may help you deal with your bedbug anxiety:

stressed about bedbugs

Although there is a common misconception that it’s a rare problem, these are the facts:

  • Bedbugs are found in all 50 states.
  • According to the NPMA, 17 – 20% of people have been affected by bed bugs at some point
  • 97% of exterminators have been called on to treat for bed bugs within the past year.
  • 80% of people in the United States are concerned about picking up bed bugs from a stay at a hotel
  • Bedbugs do not transmit disease
  • Bedbugs are not more common among lower income households and are not attracted to dirty homes

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