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Exclusive: Strictly's Karen Hauer bravely reveals struggle with stress-induced alopecia and panic attacks

The Strictly Come Dancing star chatted exclusively with HELLO!

karen hauer© Photo: Getty Images
May 11, 2023
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Strictly Come Dancing's Karen Hauer has bravely revealed how she's been quietly struggling with hair loss and panic attacks following a hugely stressful period of her life. 

The 41-year-old dancer was on tour with her hit TV show, and also preparing for her wedding, when her hairdresser noticed she had developed a bald patch. 

Karen Hauer being lifted by fellow dancers © Dave J Hogan
Karen is Strictly's longest-standing professional

In an extremely candid conversation, Karen opens up to HELLO!’s Creative Brand Ambassador, Rosie Nixon, about the debilitating health scare that stopped her in her tracks…

During the conversation, Karen spoke about battling alopecia and panic attacks as well as how she has managed to inspirationally overcome her struggles.

Karen Hauer posing in a full-length photo
The star opened up about her mental and physical struggles

The star opened the interview, talking about her lavish wedding to Jordan Win-Jones in Hampshire which was exclusively covered by HELLO! back in June. 

"Last year was really intense for me," she began.  "Because I was on tour, I was preparing my wedding and I had family coming over. I was highly stressed and I started losing my hair on the back of my ear and I had a little bald spot. My eye was twitching a little bit as well. I had to slow down and collect myself. I went to see a doctor about my hair loss and to find out what was happening with me because I had never experienced anything like that before."


"The doctor said I had alopecia, triggered by stress. She sent me some [steroid] cream but mostly she said: 'You need to breathe and relax. You need to meditate. To slow down' And literally, it was as easy as that. I needed to re-evaluate the things that were coming in and out of my life and what I was allowing to stress me and take some time for myself.

"I never thought would happen to me, because I always felt invincible in a way, like I can take on the whole world, but it stopped me on my tracks this time around."

 How did it feel when the doctor said that to you?​​​​

"I felt like I let myself down. How could I do this to myself? How could I be doing this to myself and not realise? It was actually my hair dresser Luca, who, when I went to get my hair done a couple of days before the wedding, was said: 'Hey darling, did you notice that you have a bald spot on the back of your ear?' And I was like, 'What?' It was massive.

"Until something dramatic like that happens to you, that's when you kind of stop yourself in your tracks. It literally stalls you. It wasn't just the hair, it was the eye twitches too and the panic attacks. I had two panic attacks and one of them was when I was actually dancing on stage. I remember coming off stage and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't inhale, and I started crying and I panicked. 

Luba  Karen Hauer posing on-stage
Luba helped Karen during an on-stage panic attack

"I remember my friend Luba (Mushtuk), one of the other professionals on Strictly stayed with me and she calmed me down. I was just like: 'What is happening to me? What is going on?'. It was really hard to face it and realise that I was pushing myself too far."

 How is your health now as your schedule is still very demanding?

"I think I'm finding balance. My hair is growing back. I keep checking on it, but it's growing back and it’s white. I don't have my eye twitches anymore. If I feel something coming up, or if I've had an intense week I just have to take myself away so  I'll have a day that I don't go online where I'm just at home."

Karen moved to Manchester to find peace
Karen moved to Manchester to find peace

As well as the doctor, Karen turned to her friend and fellow former Strictly professional Camilla Dallerup, who has retrained as a hypnotherapist, life and mindset coach, to help put her back into a good place. 

"Camilla is my go-to. When I need her, I make a quick phone call and say 'this is what's happening. I need to talk'. It's the small things, chatting and breathing and doing my exercises – not exercises to look different – but meditation, and breathing techniques, these things ease me from the inside.

Karen Hauer and her husband Jordan Wyn-Jones
Karen is obsessed with her fur babies

"Camilla has given me so many tools over the years like writing things down. She has a couple of books out that I'll go back and I'll read and make notes. It was just really helpful to kind of see my way out with her help, but also on my own, because at least I know I can get myself out of a rut if I don't have her around."

It can be quite a scary realization, can't it? That stress lives in our nervous system and it catches up with you. How did you mentally deal with this time?

"I took a breath. I took some time off…There were a lot of things that were piling up for me that I didn't notice that were actually really affecting me. I kind of just shut down and reevaluated things, hence why we moved."

A house move from London to the countryside, just outside of Manchester helped Karen find the peace she needed to rebuild her life.

"We're literally surrounded by cows and sheep. The dogs have space to run. I have a lovely little house, that has a lot of space. I can open the doors and walk outside and I just feel my lungs opening. I have a good balance. It's hard because I work a lot in London, but when I go home, I'm at peace.

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