Can Bed Bugs Cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

can bed bugs cause post traumatic stress disorder

In one of our previous posts, “Killem Pest Profile Series: What You Need to Know About Bed Bugs”, we looked at bed bugs and how bed bug infestations can be treated. Did you know that bed bugs are capable of causing significant emotional and psychological harm to an individual? Read on to find out more.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are an extremely common pest that often infests places where many people come into contact with each other.

They are known for roosting in the beds of homes, hotels, motels, hostels, cruise ships, and many other places, though they will often also live in other furniture and the walls.

They are small, brown, oval-shaped, and recognizable because of the sweet yet musty odor they produce. Full-grown males are larger than females, and range from 2.5mm to 4.5mm long. Humans frequently develop rashes from their bites, which can lead to greater problems like skin infections.

A bedbug

Bed bugs are parasitic and will feed on the blood of any animals they come in contact with. They are notoriously difficult to eliminate, and it is recommended that anyone facing an infestation call an exterminator to remove them all.

Bedbug bites

What is PTSD?

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition that a person develops after a traumatic incident or event. Some of the symptoms include severe anxiety, nightmares, lashing out at others when stressed, excessive anger, or uncontrollable thoughts about the person’s source of stress.

One of the most common examples of PTSD is demonstrated by soldiers who returned home from catastrophic wars like WWII. Because of their constant stress and the terrifying nature of the events, many soldiers would suffer flashbacks or panic when they heard something that sounded like gunfire. For example, some former soldiers would tackle their family members and try to protect them because they heard popcorn popping and thought it was shellfire.

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So, how is it possible for bed bugs and PTSD to be related? According to a recent psychological study, people dealing with bed bug infestations reported similar symptoms to people with PTSD. People reported severe anxiety, traumatic flashbacks to finding the bugs in their homes, and fitful slumber often characterized by nightmares.

The mental health of the people faced with bed bugs was unknown prior to the infestation, but up to 81% in one study experienced similar symptoms to PTSD sufferers.

Can having bed bugs cause PTSD after they are gone?

Have you managed to get rid of the bed bugs? Though that is very good, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot experience PTSD after the bed bugs have left. Having a bed bug infestation can be a traumatizing experience with a long-lasting impact on you and your family. It can keep bringing up anxious feelings. Getting the right support is key to overcoming PTSD resulting from bed bug infestations, even after the bed bugs have gone.

Human Fear from bed bugs

How do you get over bed bug PTSD?

There are a few options available to get over bed bug PTSD, but the three greatest ones are:

  • Therapy
  • Educating oneself about bed bugs and realizing it does not mean a person is dirty
  • Regular pest control checkups to ensure they don’t return

The first option may seem obvious but is helpful. Speaking to a therapist helps people feel calmer and express their anxiety to a neutral outlet without fear of judgement. Proper education is related to this first option.

The more people learn about bed bugs, the more they realize that the pests didn’t invade their home because a person is dirty.

Instead, bed bugs are extremely common in cities and have been on the rise in recent decades due to the ease of travel.

Pro Tip: Have regular inspections to reduce the stress and anxiety related to bed bug infestation.

Possible causes of bed-bug induced PTSD

One of the biggest causes of bed bug-induced PTSD is the lack of peace of mind. By having regular, thorough inspections, a person is able to see that there are no hidden bed bugs in their home and can start working on their symptoms of anxiety. It is recommended that people pursue this option in addition to counselling to help treat their nerves. Either way, there are many things a person can do to help them cope with bed bug-induced PTSD.

Preventative Measures for Bed Bugs PTSD

Preventative measures to deal with bed bugs PTSD

As we now know, bed bug infestations can have a huge impact on people, leaving a trail of traumatic memories for some. To prevent having to deal with bed bug-induced PTSD the best thing to do is to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of a bed bug infestation.

  • Keep your home clean and tidy
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Wash bedding and clothing in hot water
  • Dry bedding and clothing on high heat
  • Seal off any possible entry points to your home

These measures will help give you peace of mind and a nice home to live in, bed bug-free.

If you are traveling, though, you need to pay extra attention. Bed bugs are unwanted visitors in many hotels. To reduce the risk of bed bug exposure, inspect your room thoroughly, especially in and around the bedding, for any noticeable signs of bed bugs.


People who have experienced bed bug infestations in Singapore can contact Killem Pest, as we offer professional bed bug control in Singapore and can schedule regular inspections for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bed bugs can be mentally harmful as they can lead to depression, PTSD, obsessive behavior, insomnia, and anxiety.

Naturally, people affected by bed bug infestations can feel nervous and paranoid, or have nightmares and flashbacks of the infestation. But don’t feel desperate as there are strategies that can help you overcome these symptoms.

To get over bed bug trauma it is important to talk to the therapist and learn emotion-focused coping strategies. Regular pest control inspections can also provide benefits and support your recovery.