Christina Applegate On The Physical Symptoms She Missed Before MS Diagnosis

Actor Christina Applegate has opened up about her devastating MS diagnosis in the summer of 2021, and the subtle signs that she ignored.

For anyone who grew up in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Christina Applegate’s is a familiar face. Having starred in movies that came to be pop culture favourite’s like Anchorman and The Sweetest Thing, Applegate was an actor that felt less like a celebrity than she did a close friend. But while many of her peers have slowed down or retired from acting altogether, Applegate has continued to cement her status as a Hollywood icon and, more recently, her Netflix series Dead To Me showed a change of pace for the star as she traded the rom-com and raunchy comedy for something still funny, but noticeably darker. 

Though fans would hardly think to question the star’s health given her incredible work ethic, Applegate has opened up about her MS diagnosis which came in the summer of 2021. During an interview with the New York Times, Applegate also talked about the early physical symptoms she first noticed several years ago while shooting Dead to Me that later led to her diagnosis. 

According to Applegate, she first experienced feeling unbalanced while filming a dance sequence for the show, and later noticed that her tennis game wasn’t as strong. But instead of talking to a doctor, Applegate instead told herself that she needed to work harder. “I wish I had paid attention,” said Applegate. “But who was I to know?”

Overtime, these symptoms worsened and Applegate began experiencing numbness and tingling in her extremities, hallmarks of the neurological condition which disrupts communication between the brain and the body, causing numbness, tingling, mood changes, pain, paralysis, and more. Her diagnosis finally came in 2021 when she first began filming the third and final season of Dead to Me, forcing production of the show to stop for around five months as the actor received treatment. 

“There was the sense of, ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better,’” Applegate recalls. “And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time.”

Filming of the final season was important for Applegate to do, but she calls it the hardest thing she’s ever done, crediting her co-stars for their incredible support. Speaking about her diagnosis, Applegate is adamant that she will never accept it as she speaks of the devastation experienced as she comes to terms with her own lack of mobility. “Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed,” she said. 

Applegate isn’t the only celebrity to have opened up about their MS diagnosis, with Selma Blair previously having spoken about her own journey that’s since seen her go into remission. Blair is set to give fans an insight into her diagnosis and treatment in a documentary that will not only shine a spotlight on MS, but also educate countless of people on the symptoms, treatments and daily life struggles for those living with the disease. Similarly, in opening up about her own diagnosis, Applegate is encouraging others to come forward and share their story. 

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

According to the Mayo Clinic, MS is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. The immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibres and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body, which eventually, can lead to permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves. 

Symptoms vary depending on the amount of nerve damage one experiences. Those with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms. Sadly, there is no cure for MS. However, some treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and help to manage symptoms. 

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