Christina Applegate said on August 10 that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The actress, 49, wrote on Twitter that her diagnosis came “months ago” and that her journey up to that point had been “strange” and “a dreadful road.” She also talked about her relationships with the MS community, saying she has gotten “so much support from others who also have this problem.”
Actress Selma Blair, who was diagnosed with MS in 2017 and has recorded many of her own experiences on social media and elsewhere, is but one supporter. Blair tweeted Applegate after her diagnosis was made public, adding, “Loving you always.”
In a following tweet, Applegate pleaded for privacy as she treats her illness. She described her health journey in the words of a friend who has MS: “We wake up and take the required action.”
The diagnosis of Applegate has increased public awareness about multiple sclerosis.
Applegate’s decision to disclose her diagnosis may be advantageous to those who have MS and other related illnesses, claims Meghan L. Beier, PhD, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a rehabilitation neuropsychologist. Dr. Beier has years of experience treating chronic illnesses like MS.
It initially increases awareness of the medical diagnosis, according to her. “The general public still knows relatively little about MS, despite the fact that it is the neurologic condition that occurs most frequently after serious damage. Celebrities contribute to a greater understanding of the illness among the general audience.”
Getting treatment advice from those who have MS themselves can be very helpful, according to Beier, especially when addressing symptoms like fatigue, cognitive problems, and physical challenges.
“If a celebrity is able to positively discuss their personal hardships and also share the skills they are using to manage the challenges, the entire MS community can benefit,” says Beier.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
In MS, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, the body’s immune system incorrectly attacks the myelin sheath, an insulating layer that covers a portion of the body’s nerves, in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve.
This assault irritates the myelin sheath, which either causes damage or results in its destruction. The disruption of electrical impulses between the brain and other regions of the body results in patches of patchy scar tissue, sometimes known as “lesions.”
Lightheadedness, fatigue, muscle stiffness, numbness and tingling, difficulty with vision and balance, pain, and issues with the bladder and bowels are among the symptoms of MS that are frequently experienced.
Applegate’s diagnosis fits within the normal age range for the disease, which, according to Beier, is between 30 and 50.
The most prevalent kind of MS initially is relapsing-remitting, however secondary-progressive MS can also manifest. Diagnoses of primary-progressive MS occur in a much less number of patients.
It’s unclear what sort of MS Applegate has.
Disease-modifying medications can help slow the progression of the condition and reduce the frequency of relapses, which are periods when MS symptoms worsen despite the fact that the condition is incurable.
Other MS treatments include controlling comorbid conditions like depression or anxiety, physical therapy and other rehabilitative therapies, adopting a balanced lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise, and physical therapy.
After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008, Applegate underwent a double mastectomy, or the surgical removal of both breasts.
Applegate’s breast cancer experience is alluded to in the Netflix series Dead to Me in which she stars. She plays Jen Harding, a girl who, after losing her mother to breast cancer, has a preventative double mastectomy.
Body image issues were among Harding’s post-surgery challenges; Applegate herself continues to struggle with these issues more than ten years after her surgery.
“I think about that every day,” Applegate said in a May 2019 interview. “As woman who have gone through this, we often remark that even though it has been ten years, you never forget what you went through.”