Does just the thought of bedbugs give you the heebie-jeebies? You’re not alone. In fact, a lot of people are so creeped out they do things like sleeping in mosquito netting, wrapping their beds in double-sided tape, and washing themselves with ointment designed for horses.

Experts say that people who’ve experienced infestations go even further like, throwing away everything they own, buying a hamster, hoping the bugs would bite the rodents instead or literally burning their houses down! And hundreds of do-it-yourselfers have accidentally poisoned themselves with pesticides.  Like one elderly woman in North Carolina who died after coating her body with bug spray and flea powder. But none of those fixes will do any good.

Experts say it can take weeks or months to finally get rid of bedbugs.  But victims say the psychological effects can last a lifetime. One couple we read about had an exterminator in every two weeks for three months.  And they were traumatized by having to sleep in a bed they knew had bedbugs. And they’re still afraid to invite guests over – even for Thanksgiving.

Myrtle Means is a clinical psychologist. And she says what causes the most distress is feeling out of control. So, don’t focus on, “Oh my God, I have bedbugs!” Focus on what you can control to get rid of them. Feeling helpless stresses people out – so it’s important to realize that the situation is manageable.

The first order of business: Call an exterminator.

Other tips: Immediately toss your clothes in the dryer when you arrive home.

Finally, don’t bring home used furniture unless it’s from a reputable dealer.

If you’d like to go further, you can find a local bedbug support group through Google.  Or check out Bedbugger on Yahoo.