No matter your gender, class, ethnicity, race or religion, mental illness doesn’t discriminate. According to the National Mental Health Association, an estimated 2.3 million Americans have bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive illness). The rate of bipolar disorder among African Americans is the same as all Americans, except African Americans are less likely to receive a diagnosis and, therefore, treatment.

Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, a best-selling novelist whose works include Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine and What You Owe Me, understands the struggle of dealing with mental illness, having taken care of a family member afflicted with one since 1998. Campbell’s personal experience of seeing her relative go in and out of facilities inspired her to write her latest novel, 72 Hour Hold (Knopf; $24.95), a story about the owner of an upscale Los Angeles clothing shop whose teenaged daughter is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In her interview with Black Enterprise.com, Campbell discusses how mental illness affects both the person suffering from it and the person trying to help them cope.

Denial is a huge factor into whether or not a person will seek help and get diagnosed adequately.

Getting rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness is another roadblock to treatment.

Campbell goes on to mention that Depression is a big warning sign a person is suffering from bipolar disorder.

Depression inhibits a person from performing the usual daily activities like getting out of bed, bathing, not eating or overeating, and irritability or anger.

The onset age of symptoms appearing is late teens to early 20’s, but it can occur sooner or later in life.

Although, Thyroid Disorder isn’t mentioned in the original interview, it is also a contributing factor. Many people, myself included, suffer from hypothyroidism, a disorder in which your body does not produce the proper amount of Thyroid Hormone. This can lead to depression, bipolar disorder, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and irregular menstrual cycles.

The best thing to do is contact your physician and an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes with the endocrine system and hormones, to get the proper tests performed.

If you would like to read the complete interview and find out how insurance companies factor into treatment for bipolar disorder please visit Black Enterprise.com.

Tamika M. Murray blogs at PJ’s and A Movie and Stop and Stare Photos.

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