The singer and actress says her autoimmune disease has come with unexpected side effects.
Selena Gomez—who has been traveling and performing on her Revival Tour since May—announced yesterday that she is taking a break to tend to her health. About a year ago Gomez revealed that she had undergone chemotherapy for lupus. Now she says she is grappling with mental health issues triggered by her condition.
“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks, and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” Gomez told People in an exclusive statement.
Lupus (short for systemic lupus erythematosus) is an inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. As Gomez pointed out in her statement, "it's an illness that can affect people in different ways." The symptoms vary widely from person to person, and depend on which body systems are affected. Common signs include rashes (specifically a "butterfly rash" across both cheeks), fatigue, fever, joint pain, shortness of breath, and headaches.
Many people aren't aware that the autoimmune disorder can have mental implications as well. As Kenneth M. Farber, the co-CEO and co-president of the Lupus Research Alliance told People, “it is not commonly known that depression, anxiety, and panic attacks can be side effects of lupus." He went on to praise Gomez for taking care of herself, and "bringing awareness to this sometimes very misunderstood illness.”
Gomez says healing is her top priority at the moment: "I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off. Thank you to all my fans for your support. You know how special you are to me, but I need to face this head on to ensure I am doing everything possible to be my best."
As a final note, the 24-year-old added that she hopes her decision might motivate anyone else dealing with mental health struggles to get help: "I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues.”