Head Bugs Worse Than Bed Bugs?

Imagine intense itching waking you from a sound slumber to discover blood-sucking bed bugs in your bed. Feelings of panic, embarrassment and isolation rise to the surface and for some give way to obsessive thoughts and behaviours.  In time, relationships are strained and paranoia sets-in leading to depression and suicidal thoughts. 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The psychological side of the bed bug battle – for some individuals – is suggestive of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Colloquially known as “head bugs”, it is a phenomenon that can last for months past the eradication of the last bed bug from the site. Not everyone is affected in this manner, and some more than others.

PTSD Behaviours Exhibited

A recent review of three on-line forums:

by Jerome Goddard, PhD, Mississippi State University (MSU) Entomology Professor and Richard de Shazo, MD, Chairman of the MSU Medical Center Department of Medicine, applied a recognized PTSD checklist [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV)] to the forums' bed bug postings.

Symptoms and Behaviours of Bed Bug Attacks Chart.png

Daily, May 15 through June 15, 135 postings were examined, classified and analyzed. Typical behaviours noted were:

  • Six incidents of repetitive intense deep-cleaning of their home/office
  • Near-constant change to fresh clothes
  • Repetitive examinations of their body
  • Five incidents of evading activities, people and places that may result in bed bug transference
  • Five detailed suicidal thoughts or actual attempts
  • One account of recurring violent nightmares.

The resulting scores ranged from 0 to 52 with a mean of 13.25 and one that fulfilled the checklist for PTSD. While 

1 out of 130 posts qualifying for PTSD do not appear to be over-whelming, it is worth noting:

  • Greater than 80% of the reports included one or more symptoms on the checklist, and
  • Had in-person interviews been possible, it is conceivable; additional behaviours would be uncovered and would have met the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD.

While Goddard and Shazo recognize further investigation is required to ascertain the extent PTSD may occur after bed bugs attacks, they have concluded: 

“that bed bug attacks cause moderate-to-sever psychological effects and PTSD in certain susceptible individuals [and] … more accurate and available public health information on the biology, ecology, and health effects of these insects could decrease the level of anxiety associated with bed bug bites.”

Quality Bed Bug Info Top Priority

Bed Bug Mutts heartily agrees as we experience time and again, clients that are sleep-deprived and over-wrought with feelings of hysteria, frustration and helplessness. Quality bed bug information is a top priority, followed by placement of early bed bug detection monitors as a pro-active warning system. These two points bear repeating time and again.

Begin right now with quality bed bug information - Know the enemy.