Being the victim of a crime is psychologically and emotionally traumatic, but there can sometimes be physical consequences too. Some victims – especially those who have experienced bereavement as a result of violent crime – report a range of physical side effects such as the loss of hair or nails.
Psychologists say that these symptoms are representative of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is best known as a condition that can affect soldiers returning from active duty in warzones.
Fight or flight reaction
Speaking to the BBC about the murder of her son, Mrs Oakes-Odger from Essex explained her own loss of hair and toenails as being the result of constant stress brought on by living in a ‘fight or flight’ state. “You feel as though you are losing your mind,” she explained.
“When a child is murdered, it is out of the normal course of events. The shock element creates a lot of physical and mental issues for every member of the family. One of the things which happened to me was my hair fell out in bunches and my toenails fell off. I thought that was peculiar to me, but I found out it wasn’t.”
Hair loss experts have long suspected a link between psychological stress and hair loss conditions such as Telogen Effluvium. People undergoing severe emotional trauma may find their hair falls out in large patches for no apparent reason.
Hair loss caused by Telogen Effluvium may even begin months after the initial trauma has passed, adding further delay to the psychological and physical recovery process. There is also some suggestion that stress can exacerbate other existing hair loss conditions, speeding up the rate of shedding.
Signs of recovery
As the emotional stress passes, hair loss caused by Telogen Effluvium tends to resolve itself. Hair begins re-growing within a few months, generally leaving no bald batches. However, hair loss that is attributed to other conditions can sometimes require a treatment plan.
Anyone experiencing hair loss after a traumatic experience should seek professional advice as soon as possible in order to begin a hair loss treatment programme, if appropriate, to halt further shedding and encourage re-growth.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our online diagnostic form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our hair loss success stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 0800 077 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.