Christina Applegate believes she was living with multiple sclerosis years before she was diagnosed

Christina Applegate has revealed she experienced multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms for six or seven years before she was diagnosed.

The Dead to Me star, 52, opened up about living with the immune disorder - which disrupts the central nervous system - in an interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday (13 March). Applegate was joined by her friend and The Sopranos alum, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who was also diagnosed with MS in 2001.

Speaking to anchor Robin Roberts, the Married... with Children star detailed the symptoms she experienced long before publicly announcing her MS diagnosis in 2021. “I probably had it for six or seven years, I think,” Applegate said. “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.”

The actor also noticed “tingling on [her] toes” in early 2021. By the time she began shooting the final season of the Netflix series, which ran from 2019 to 2022, Applegate said she was being “brought to set in a wheelchair”.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord. The disease occurs when the body attacks myelin - the protective sheath that covers nerve fibres - sometimes causing the breakdown of communication between the brain and other parts of the body, the Mayo Clinic states. According to the National MS Society, more than 2.3 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with the immune disorder, with women being more than two to three times as likely as men to develop the disease.

“They call it the invisible disease. It can be very lonely because it’s hard to explain to people,” Applegate said. “I’m in excruciating pain, but I’m just used to it now.”

Signs and symptoms of MS can vary widely between patients, with some people experiencing mobility issues, partial or complete loss of vision, or balance issues. While there is no cure for MS, there are a variety treatments that can help speed the recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease, and manage symptoms.

Elsewhere during the interview, she spoke candidly about the drastic changes to her life since receiving her diagnosis - which came following the encouragement of her former co-star, Selma Blair. Applegate credited her The Sweetest Thing co-star for urging her to be tested for MS, after Blair was also diagnosed with the autoimmune condition in 2018.

“She goes, ‘You need to be checked for MS,’ and I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Really? The odds? The two of us from the same movie. Come on, that’s not gonna be - that doesn’t happen,’” Applegate recalled, adding of Blair: “She knew. If not for her, it could have been way worse.”

The Anchorman actor went on to describe living with MS as “kind of hell” and admitted that she’s found herself “isolating” at home as a way to cope with the challenges of the disease. “Right now, I’m isolating,” she told Roberts. “That’s kind of how I’m dealing with it, is by, like, not going anywhere, because I don’t want to do it. It’s hard.”

When asked whether she’s still in a grieving process, Applegate replied: “I’m never going to wake up and go, ‘This is awesome. It’s just not going to happen. I wake up and I’m reminded of it everyday… but I might get to a place where I function a little bit better.”

Meanwhile, Sigler was diagnosed with MS while starring as Meadow Soprano in the hit HBO drama series when she was just 20 years old. The two friends are launching a podcast together, titled MeSsy, on 19 March.