In 2009, Yorkshire chef Claudia Lawrence was seen walking to work, as normal, but she never arrived. That was the last time the then 35 year old was seen.
Her disappearance was initially treated as a murder investigation but, despite a number of suspects being arrested, charges were dropped in 2016 due to a lack of evidence.
Although her body has still not been found, police scaled back their efforts in 2017, but the daily strain of the ordeal is still taking its toll on Claudia’s mother, Joan Lawrence.
The emotional stress of not knowing what has happened to her daughter has caused her extensive hair loss, to the point where she now wears a wig.
Hair getting thinner
Talking to the Yorkshire Post, Joan explains, “My hair just kept getting thinner and I can’t pretend it didn’t get me down.”
Speaking out as part of her campaign to keep the case in the public eye in the hope that new evidence may come to light as its ten year anniversary approaches, Joan Lawrence explains why she chose to wear a wig.
“No matter how bad I’ve felt, I’ve always been determined to stay proud and not let myself go. Hopefully, that’s what I’ve done… I can’t ever give up hope that I’ll see Claudia again one day – and I have to look my best for her, don’t I?” she says.
“People might give me a double-take in the supermarket or in the street but then they come up and say it’s taken 20 years off me… Having the wig and hearing the response from people has given me a real lift. I look in the mirror and feel more determined than ever to keep fighting for Claudia. That’s all I can do.”
Stress-induced hair loss
There are two main types of stress-related hair loss both of which can be caused by physical or emotional strain – or both.
The first is an autoimmune disorder called Alopecia Areata which presents as sudden hair loss forming rounded patches that vary in size and number, anywhere on the scalp. In many cases this will clear up of its own accord within 12 months of its onset but this cannot be guaranteed. Alopecia Areata treatment is possible for the scalp-only form but there are more severe phenotypes which cause the entire head and body to become hairless and for which treatment possibilities are currently limited in both availability and efficacy. In terms of its links to stress, this condition tends to be triggered by a sudden shock or trauma which disrupts the hair growth cycle, causing a number of follicles to remain stuck in the ‘resting’ phase.
The second, and that which appears to be the case here from Lawrence’s description of thinning hair, involves significant shedding from all over the scalp. This is called Diffuse Thinning or Chronic Telogen Effluvium and, although temporary, lasts for at least six months. Generally this will start to appear around three months after being triggered and can cause up to approximately 30 per cent of the hair that would otherwise have been actively growing to thin and shed. This can result in what feels like sudden, intense hair loss even though the process has been in motion for months. In order for this to be successfully resolved, the underlying issue often needs to be dealt with so that the stress is relieved, or at least properly managed.
Whilst hair loss treatment for Chronic Telogen Effluvium can be employed, it is important to know that this condition can be particularly burdensome for people with either an active or underlying genetic predisposition towards male or female pattern hair loss given it may exacerbate or accelerate the onset of these permanent conditions.
This is why anyone concerned about unusual levels of shedding or sudden hair fall should consult a specialist for a professional diagnosis of their hair loss condition, in addition to personalised treatment recommendations, where appropriate.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.