Was Nicola Bulley depressed? Her health struggles detailed

Nicola Bulley

Nicola Bulley went missing in late January 2023 while walking her dog, Willow, along River Wyre. The police’s theory that Bulley fell into the river seems unlikely as divers have found no trace of her. 

“Extensive searching, as you’re probably aware, has gone on in that river,” Peter Lawson, a police constable, told Channel 5. “The fact that the divers and underwater rescue team and all that were in that river on the day, and thankfully found absolutely nothing, in the part where you would have presume is her last known location.”

Weeks after Bulley’s disappearance, the police took the ‘unusual step’ of releasing personal details about her. 

Nicola Bulley experienced early menopause, whose symptoms may include depression

On 15th February 2023, the police stated that Bulley had issues with alcohol stemming from early menopause. 

According to The Daily Mail, early menopause happens when periods stop before the age of 45 and affects roughly one in 20 women. The outlet reports that early menopause increases the risk of dementia, depression, heart disease, and Parkinson’s.

Bulley’s family released a statement informing the public that Bulley was taking HRT to manage early menopause but had stopped taking the drugs due to the side effects. The statement read:

“Due to the perimenopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis.”

The police said that Bulley’s alcohol problems stemmed from her menopause struggles. They stated:

“Sadly, it is clear from speaking to Paul and the family that Nicola had in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause, and that these struggles had resurfaced over recent months.”

Lancashire police stated that Bulley’s alcohol issues made her a ‘high-risk’ missing person. According to The Guardian, the College of Policing defines a high-risk missing person as ‘someone at risk of serious harm to themselves or the public and requiring the immediate deployment of police resources’. 

Authorities have faced widespread criticism for releasing personal information about Bulley

Authorities have faced backlash for releasing personal information about Bulley. Suella Braverman, the home secretary, expressed concerns about a move described by the Lancashire police as ‘unusual’. She demanded an explanation from senior officers and reportedly wasn’t satisfied with their justification. 

Dame Vera Baird described the police’s decision to divulge medical information about Bulley as ‘dreadful’. Baird, who stepped down as victims’ commissioner in 2022, told BBC Radio 4:

“I’m afraid this is the biggest error that I have seen for quite a long time. It’s going to just, you know, very sadly, to undermine trust in the police yet further. It is a dreadful error to put this in the public domain for absolutely nothing and I’m afraid I think it’s as sexist as it comes.”

Bulley’s family said they knew about Lancashire Police’s move but didn’t confirm whether they approved it. The family asked people to stop spreading rumors and speculation about Bulley’s personal life:

“Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling and needs to stop.”

Det Supt Becky Smith criticized the social media speculation, saying it had distracted authorities. “Some of it has been quite shocking, and really hurtful to the family,” she said. Smith urged people to continue helping with the investigation while refraining from spreading falsehoods:

“We’re really, really grateful to members of the public for ringing in to the inquiry, we wouldn’t have gotten this far without everybody’s help. But I think it’s also really obvious that we are being inundated with false information, accusations and rumors, which is distracting us from our work.”