WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Infestations of bed bugs are on the rise this summer, and their effects go beyond that infernal itching and physical discomfort.
From head to toe, Robin Boyd has the physical scars of being eaten alive by bed bugs.
"My face, my back, my breasts, my buttocks, my legs."
What you can't see are the psychological scars.
"You're ashamed. You can't tell nobody you got bed bugs. Because as soon as you tell people you got bed bugs, they shy away from you. Nobody's your friend because you're scared of everybody, you get paranoid of everybody. Even at your work," Boyd said.
Missy Henriksen of the National Pest Management Association says it's an all-too-common story.
"People do oftentimes find themselves dealing with great deals of anxiety, sleeplessness, oftentimes depression. I hear stories of people who truly are on the brink of holding on to their sanity because of all that they're experiencing," Henriksen said.
Having bed bugs means bites, itching and the nuisance of trying to get rid of them. While they may not transmit physical disease, experts say they can bring untold mental anguish and social stigma.
"Unfortunately, if someone does find out that their friends or neighbors do have bedbugs, oftentimes the social visits do stop, children's playdate stop, cocktail parties or dinner parties get canceled," Henriksen said.
That can leave them feeling isolated with no one to turn to for help and support.
The anxiety, the depression, a great deal of reclusiveness that oftentimes comes when people do have bed bugs and they're concerned to talk to other individuals about it.
Alone and ashamed, Robin Boyd tried to fight.
"You know what, I'm going to get rid of this. I'm going to go get something, I'm going to get rid of this, they're not going to beat me. Then they beat you anyway," Boyd said.
A life turned upside down by the tiniest of pests.
The Iowa Department of Public Health says that while bedbugs were once all but eliminated from our country, they can now be found in all 50 states.