How Domestic Pests Affect Mental Health - graphic of human figure in house shape
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How Domestic Pests Affect Mental Health

August 2021

How Domestic Pests Affect Mental Health

In this blog I want to highlight the negative effect on mental health from pest problems in the domestic environment. It’s easy to imagine the possible physical health implications from, say, a rodent infestation. They carry ticks and fleas and leave droppings everywhere. What’s worse is that they’re carriers of hantaviruses. These viruses cause a range of symptoms from mild, flu-like to severe respiratory and kidney problems. Not a pleasant thought eh?

Mental illness as well as physical

Now that’s bad enough on its own. But the presence of rodents, and rats in particular, in one’s home, brings with it a lot of stress and worry. In the first instance they’re a possible danger to the fabric of your home with their tendency to gnaw through pipes and cables and … well, pretty much anything really.

The presence of a rodent infestation, even one that’s getting dealt with, is an unpleasant and stressful experience. In particular if they’ve made themselves comfortable overhead in your roof space. They can make quite a racket! In extreme cases rodent infestations can, according to this American article, induce a state called Musophobia – the fear of mice or rats.  Musophobia, it’ll be no surprise to know, is a very common phobia that tends to come about when sufferers have had a traumatic experience with rats or mice. It results in heightened anxiety, dread and fear of the rodents.

How Domestic Pests Affect Mental Health - graphic of human figure in house shape

Bed bugs

Earlier this year we wrote about bed bugs, prompted by a media article concerning a hotel in Leeds. In that piece we bust some myths about bed bugs – they’re not for instance a product of filth. Anyone can get them. Our global village society is the main reason for their increase – we’re picking them up on holiday or taking them with us.

While getting bitten is of course not a nice thought, their bites are not in fact dangerous. Aside from the nuisance factor, the biggest personal threat from bed bugs is to your mental health. As this Insider article points out, bed bug victims report such mental health symptoms as paranoia, obsessive behaviour, bad dreams and feelings of anxiety.

Affect Mental Health - cartoon graphic of a bug in bed

Those most likely to suffer

It goes without saying that people with existing mental illness, or those living in poverty or isolation are most likely to suffer from longer-term mental health consequences of having bed bugs. And, of course, such groups are more likely to have less access to both extermination and mental health services. And that will make both things worse. For the majority of otherwise healthy people, any bug-related anxiety clears once the bugs have bugged off!

If you find yourself with a bed bug problem, do remember that they’re no different to any other bug, that they’re not your fault and that you can get rid of them. The best way to do that is with help from pest control experts such as ourselves.

If you’re not sleeping well because you’re anxious about your pest issue – whether domestic or commercial – then we don’t sleep well either. So be sure to get in contact, let’s tackle the issue and then we can all sleep tight.  Send us a message via our webform here or call us on 01793 780 600

Incidentally … 

… the old rhyme ‘goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ is nothing to do with wriggly creatures at all as Chadds Ford Historical Society explain in their blog.

Myth: the rhyme found its origin in the early 1700s. It’s a reminder to tighten the ropes on the bed before sleeping. The ‘bedbug’ is the bed wrench. So ‘don’t let the bedbugs bite’ means to be careful and don’t pinch your fingers on the wrench.’

The truth of the meaning behind ‘sleep tight’ is that it’s really more of a prayer than anything else. To sleep “tight” meant to sleep well or soundly, to sleep safely until morning, and has been listed in the dictionary as such.

So, when I wish you a good night, ‘sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite,’ I am wishing you a good night’s sleep and I hope you remain safe till morning. And here’s hoping those bedbugs don’t bite you during your sound sleep!

So now you know!