Infestations May Trigger 'Bedbug Psychosis'

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Bedbugs May Increase Risk of Mental Health Problems

Any doctor seeing patients with bedbug infestation and pre-existing psychoses "should be on alert," Rieder said. "These people can decompensate even if they've been medically stable for a significant period of time."

Researchers said it's unclear why a bedbug infestation threatens the mental health of some more than others, but they hope to research the topic further, as bedbugs are not going away.

"Most people are very upset when they call us," said Steve Nelson, a co-owner of Chemtech Exterminating Corp. in New York City. "They are on the phone, crying. It's very disconcerting -- a nightmare for most people."

Nelson said that he and other exterminators often act as stand-in psychologists, reassuring the customers that they will help them get through this mentally exhausting ordeal.

"People are ... taking their home and turning it upsidedown," said Nelson. "We feel bad, but we tell them we're there to help and we reassure them that we will get rid of the problem."

As for da Silva, he said he empathized and understood why bedbugs may wreak havoc on a person's psyche.

"You're living in a house where you're not at peace," said da Silva. "Then you barely sleep and you wake up and you're tired. That could definitely have a huge impact on anxiety and depression."

While da Silva didn't need psychiatric help to manage his bedbug storm, the experience is not over for him.

"It's always in the back of my mind," he said. "Even though they're gone, I worry that a friend might have them, and it'll just be brought right back to the house. All of a sudden, they're everywhere."

Additional reporting by MedPage Today's Kristina Fiore

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