Human Health Considerations: Mental Health Effects

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Goddard, J., and R. de Shazo. 2012. Psychological effects of bed bug attacks (Cimex lectularius L.). The American Journal of Medicine. 125: 101–103.

Bed bug bites can cause insomnia, anxiety, avoidance behaviors, nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance (to keep the bed bugs away), and personal dysfunction—such symptoms are suggestive of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A PTSD checklist was used to evaluate 135 online posts of individuals recounting bed bug bites, and 110 of these demonstrated psychological effects from bed bug infestations, and 1 post met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD. Individuals who experience bed bug bites and develop moderate-to-severe negative emotional symptoms should be identified by health professionals and targeted to receive appropriate mental health care.


Susser, S. R., S. Perron, M. Fournier, L. Jacques, G. Denis, F. Tessier, and P. Roberge. 2012. Mental health effects from urban bed bug infestation (Cimex lectularius L.): a cross-sectional study. British Medical Journal. 2: 1–6.

Researchers used established medical indices for determining anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances in apartment tenants who were exposed to bed bugs or unexposed (controls). Individuals who experienced bed bug exposure had higher levels of sleep disturbances and anxiety symptoms. More symptoms of depression were reported in the bed bug-infested group, but this finding was not statistically significant. Greater clinical awareness is needed for patients to receive appropriate mental healthcare. These findings highlight the need for more collaboration between medical professionals, public health staff, and community stakeholders.


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