Selena Gomez’s lupus and other health issues: Singer opens up in new TODAY interview

Selena Gomez lives with lupus, one of several health conditions she’s experienced over the years.

The 31-year-old pop star recently opened up about her wellbeing to TODAY’s Hoda Kotb alongside U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in an interview aired May 2, 2024. The conversation was a part of her makeup line Rare Beauty’s Mental Health Summit on May 1.

“I will always be working on my mental health, and I will always evolve. I’m not better or worse than anyone. I’m simply just a person living and surviving every day,” Gomez said.

Selena Gomez Opens Up About Shocking 'Life-Or-Death' Lupus Diagnosis

“Having to take steps to make yourself healthy takes a lot of work,” she added.

The Disney Channel alum has been candid about what it’s taken to keep herself mentally and physically healthy over the years. Here’s what to know about Gomez’s health.

Gomez was diagnosed with lupus in 2013

Gomez first went public with her health issues when she revealed that she’d been diagnosed with lupus two years prior in a 2015 interview with Billboard. The announcement came after she abruptly ended her 2013 tour to check herself into a rehab center to undergo treatment.

“I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke,” she said.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can attack joints, skin, organs and other parts of the body, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. There are four different types of the condition. Gomez has not specified which one she has. Chemotherapy can be used to treat severe forms of the disease.

Symptoms of lupus include muscle and join paint, fever, rashes, chest pain, hair loss, kidney problems, fatigue and more.

Selena Gomez and Why Lupus Is the Women's Health Issue You Should Know  About | Vogue

When Gomez was receiving treatment, speculation mounted about why she had to cancel her tour. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy,’” she told Billboard. “I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

For many lupus patients, the condition can affect their mental health, and Gomez is no exception.

“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” Gomez, then 24, told People in 2016.

In an exclusive TODAY interview in 2017, Gomez revealed that she’d often continue to work, despite her lupus symptoms.

“I would get fevers, headaches. I would get fatigue. But I always just kept going,” she told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “I kind of ignored it, to be honest. … I don’t think I made the right decisions because I didn’t accept it. And that’s extremely selfish, and at the same time, really just unnecessary. I’m not really proud of that.”

She had a kidney transplant to treat her lupus in 2017

Gomez was in need of a kidney transplant as a result of her lupus and had one in 2017, she announced on her Instagram at the time.

“So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health,” the then-25-year-old wrote.

The post included a picture of her friend and kidney donor, actor Francia Raisa.

“There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis,” Gomez said.

Selena Gomez opens up on mental health journey, helping youth

Even though she’d endured so much at such a young age, she said in the 2017 TODAY interview that “I don’t want people to think it’s a sad thing that I went through this with Francia or with anything in my life. I think all of the stuff that I went through made me and defined everything that I am right now. It’s a really beautiful thing and I have to remind myself of that. It’s not a negative experience.”

The transplant helped move her lupus into remission for some time, but Gomez said in her 2022 AppleTV+ documentary “Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me” that she had a flare up in 2020.

“I was so young. I haven’t felt it since I was younger,” she said while crying. “Now it just hurts in the morning. When I wake up, I immediately start crying because it hurts — like everything.”

Gomez said her physical pain was harming her mental health.

“I’ve been having really bad dreams about my past and stuff,” she said in the documentary. “I think my past and my mistakes — that’s what drives me into depression.”

She’s entered mental health treatment facilities

Gomez took a break from her 2016 Revival World Tour to enter a mental health treatment facility after suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and depression, which she told People magazine were caused by her lupus in a statement at the time.

“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,” she said in the statement.

A year later, she reflected on this decision in an interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “I went away to a facility. I took some time off. I needed to get my mind right, be healthy,” Gomez said. “I removed myself from everyone in my life.”

This period of her life was also captured in her AppleTV+ documentary. “It sucks the life out of me and I don’t want to perform. The pressure is just overwhelming because I want to do the best I can,” Gomez said in the film.

Her former assistant Theresa Marie Mingus also detailed how Gomez was doing at the time in the documentary: “At one point, she’s like, ‘I don’t want to be alive right now. I don’t want to live. And I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’”

Gomez returned to the limelight in November 2016 to accept the American Music Award for favorite pop/rock female artist.

“I had to stop,” she told the crowd of her hiatus. “I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”

Two years later, Gomez later entered a treatment facility in 2018 to help manage her anxiety and depression. Her mom, Mandy Teefey, described it as a “mental breakdown” in the documentary.

“You hang on as tight as you can and try to help them with their treatment, and that’s the hardest thing to do, to then just go to bed and hope that they wake up the next day,” Teefey said.

In a November 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Gomez said she’s been to four mental health treatment facilities in total.

She revealed her bipolar diagnosis in 2020

Gomez shared with the world in April 2020 that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She chatted about the experience with Miley Cyrus on the “Hannah Montana” alum’s Instagram show, “Bright Minded.”

“I discussed that after years of going through a lot of different things, I realized that I was bipolar, and so when I got to know more information, it actually helps me,” she said. “It doesn’t scare me once I know it. I think people get scared of that, right?”

“I wanted to know everything about it, and it took the fear away,” she added.

Before publicly sharing her diagnosis, Gomez opened up about her mental health struggles in a January 2020 interview with the Wall Street Journal Magazine. She revealed that medication has helped her.

“My highs were really high, and my lows would take me out for weeks at a time. I found out I do suffer from mental health issues. And, honestly, that was such a relief. I realized that there was a way to get help and to find people that you trust,” she said.

“I got on the right medication, and my life has been completely changed,” she added.

Speaking with Hoda on TODAY, she acknowledged that many people on her team didn’t want her to reveal her diagnosis.

“I’ve been pulled in many different directions to not or to be able to say it. But once I did, there was no taking it back. I was very proud,” Gomez said. “It allowed me to learn more about myself.”

“I wasn’t understanding my mind. I wasn’t understanding my reactions and my emotions. And I think that was probably the most painful time in my life,” she added.

She’s had lifelong body image struggles

Gomez has been publicly body-shamed over the years and has spoken about it often.

“My weight would constantly fluctuate because I would be on certain medications. And obviously, people just ran with it,” she said in an episode of the Apple TV+ docuseries “Dear…”

“It was like they couldn’t wait to find a thing to bring me down. I was being shamed for gaining weight because of my lupus.”

“I would go online and I would post a picture of myself and I would say, ‘It doesn’t matter. I’m not accepting what you’re saying,’” she said. “All the while, being in the room posting and crying my eyes out because nobody deserves to hear those things.”

Gomez has 428 million followers on Instagram, and to manage it, she’s had to set boundaries, she told Hoda Kotb in the May 2 interview.

“I disabled all my comments on my photos on Instagram for only my friends,” she said. “So I think I’ve created boundaries to help me.”

“People fussed about it. They fuss about everything. I felt empowered by doing that, by saying, ‘This is just for me.'”

In an Instagram post earlier this year, Gomez reflected once more on her body image. She shared a throwback picture of herself in a string bikini followed by a more recent photo in a two piece swimsuit.

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