Tragic Details About Christina Applegate's Diagnoses

Christina Applegate began film acting professionally when she was 9 years old. She's been a popular and ever-present star of TV and movies ever since she broke into the mainstream as teenager Kelly Bundy in the Fox sitcom "Married... with Children" when she was just 15 years old. For 11 hugely popular seasons she portrayed Kelly opposite Ed O'Neill and Katey Sagal, who played her dysfunctional parents. The film industry took notice of Applegate's innate comedic talents and began casting her in movies, which laid the foundation for a career that has lasted more than three decades. Since her breakout part, she has taken on roles in some of the most memorable comedies in living memory, including "Anchorman" and "Dead to Me," and shown her diverse abilities in other genres.

But fans of Applegate probably have to get used to seeing less of her on screen, the tragic result of numerous health issues that have reduced her ability to make public appearances or commit to a rigorous shooting schedule. Here are the sad facts of Christina Applegate's recent health troubles.

A breast cancer survivor

The first major health scare in Christina Applegate's life came in 2008 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. At the time, the actress was in high demand, starring in the sitcom "Samantha Who?" which ran from 2007 until 2009. She decided to keep her condition a secret — one of many dark secrets of '80s sitcom stars — until after her treatment, which included a double mastectomy to stop the cancer from returning.

Applegate later admitted that she regretted not being open about her illness. In an appearance on the "Armchair Expert" podcast, she recalled an interview shortly after her diagnosis. "My first interview was with Robin Roberts when I had cancer, and I'm sitting there lying my ass off about how I felt," she said, adding that after the talk, she burst into tears. "Everything I was saying was a freaking lie. It was me trying to convince myself of something, and I think that did no service to anyone."

Sadly, Applegate has since complained of the treatment she received at the hands of her employers at the time. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she said after returning to work on "Samantha Who?" following her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, the network executives at ABC were "not very sympathetic or empathetic human beings." She also said she regrets not respecting her own boundaries more in terms of the speed with which she returned to work. In the aftermath of her breast cancer treatment, Applegate revealed that she has also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as precautionary measures to prevent other cancers.

A second terrifying diagnosis

But Christina Applegate's health troubles were far from over. In 2021, the actress revealed that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, also known as MS. "Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "It's been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It's been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some a****** blocks it."

In an ABC News interview the same year, she explained that she had begun to develop troubling symptoms while working on the set of "Dead to Me." "My symptoms had started in the early part of 2021, and it was literally just tingling on my toes," she said. "And by the time we started shooting in the summer of that same year, I was being brought to set in a wheelchair. Like, I couldn't walk that far." However, she also described the great support she received from friends and colleagues, particularly actress Selma Blair, who also has MS, and convinced Applegate to get tested for the disease, leading to her diagnosis.

Her symptoms have become worse

Christina Applegate believes she may have had multiple sclerosis for years without knowing before her eventual diagnosis in 2021. Since first going public with the news, she has kept her fans updated on the state of her health. Sadly, she has made clear that living with MS is far from easy and that her condition has caused her a great deal of suffering.

Talking on the "Armchair Expert" podcast, Applegate revealed that her brain is covered in 30 lesions, including one behind her right eye, which causes her a lot of pain. She added that the condition affects the use of her hands and that she often feels on the edge of a brain seizure.

In an interview with "Good Morning America," she admitted she's in pain every day and spends much of her time isolating. "I'm never going to wake up and go, 'This is awesome,'" she said. "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. ... It's hard," she added.

Her life-changing symptoms have led to depression

Christina Applegate's openness about the way multiple sclerosis affects her daily life has led to fans growing increasingly worried about her. In June 2024, she revealed on her podcast "MeSsy," which she co-hosts with Jamie-Lynn Sigler — who also lives with MS — that she was depressed. "A real, f***-it-all depression," she said. "Like, a real depression, where it's kind of scaring me too a little bit because it feels really fatalistic." She also admitted that she does not "enjoy living" as a result of MS, which raised alarm among listeners and led to several sensationalized articles being published online about her mental condition. "It's important to be able to say these things," she clarified in another episode of the podcast. "And, no, I'm not sitting here on suicide watch, OK? I am not. Nor have I ever been."

However, Applegate has also been open about the fact that her acting career may have to come to a permanent end, with the demands of shooting schedules too much for her as she learns to manage the disease.

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If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.