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Christina Applegate Reveals She Likely Had Multiple Sclerosis “for Six or Seven Years” Before Diagnosis

In an emotional and honest interview with ABC News, Christina Applegate and Jamie-Lynn Sigler open up about living with multiple sclerosis, with the former star of Netflix’s Dead to Me revealing she has likely had the chronic central nervous system disease for six or seven years before she was diagnosed.

Applegate, 52, and Sigler, 42, spoke with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts about their MS diagnoses and living with the incurable disease in a segment that aired Wednesday morning. Applegate initially decided to get checked for MS when she noticed her toes tingling while filming the Netflix series’ final season and was diagnosed in 2021. But she revealed to Roberts that the symptoms were there for years.

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“I probably had it for six or seven years, I think,” Applegate says. “I noticed, especially the first season [of Dead to Me], we’d be shooting and my leg would buckle. I really just put it off as being tired, or I’m dehydrated, or it’s the weather. Then nothing would happen for months, and I didn’t pay attention. But when it hit this hard, I had to pay attention.”

Applegate is candid while discussing the drastic changes in her life since her diagnosis, which came after her The Sweetest Thing co-star Selma Blair, who was diagnosed with MS in 2018, encouraged her to get tested. Though Applegate has had career in television in film that spanned decades, breaking through with Married … With Children and continuing with starring roles in Anchorman, Samantha Who? and Dead to Me, she says she’s now isolated because of the physical pain she’s experiencing daily.

“I’m never going to wake up and go, ‘This is awesome,'” she says. “I’m just going to tell you that. Like, it’s not going to happen,” she continued. “I wake up and I’m reminded of it every day … But I might get to a place where I function a little bit better. Right now I’m isolating, and that’s kind of how I’m dealing with it, is by not going anywhere because I don’t want to do it. It’s hard.”

GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Robin Roberts interviews Christina Applegate and Jamie-Lynn Sigler on ABC’s Good Morning America airing Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
Robin Roberts interviews Christina Applegate and Jamie-Lynn Sigler on Good Morning America.

MS is a disease in which the body attacks myelin, the tissue that surrounds nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. It has no cure and impacts those who have it in a wide variety of ways, with some only experiencing mild symptoms, but for others, the breakdown of communication between the brain and other parts of the body can lead to the loss of the ability to see clearly, write, speak or walk.

The causes of MS can range from genetic or environmental factors to viruses entering the body. The average age range in which symptoms appear falls between 20 and 40. It is three times more common in women than men, according to the NIH and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Siegler was 20 and working on The Sopranos when she was diagnosed with MS in 2001. She didn’t reveal her diagnosis publicly as the show and her role as Meadow Soprano came to an end, and it wasn’t until 2016 that she publicly disclosed that she’d been living with the disease. She now has two sons and says she’s hopeful about a cure for MS, which is treated with medication to delay progression and treat some symptoms.

“There’s this little bit of hope that maybe one day we won’t live with this,” Sigler told GMA. “It’s hard to let that go.”

Now, Sigler and Applegate, who have become close friends, are launching a podcast, MeSsy, where the two have conversations about coping with MS and other topics. Sigler says that for listeners, it will be like eavesdropping on their conversations, and the show has no format or agenda. Applegate says she wants listeners to feel seen and heard with their own issues, as Sigler has done for her.

“She keeps me going because … I’m flipping the bird all day long at this thing, and I’m angry. I’m really, really pissed,” Applegate told Roberts at the sit-down interview in L.A. “She’s like, ‘OK, I have you, and you are going to be OK. Like, you’re going to be OK.’ And if not for her … I really honestly don’t know.”

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