I don’t know about the rest of the world, but we Americans love our medications. Have heartburn, take a pill. Headache, do the same. Depressed, anxious, or even think you are. Right again, take a pill. Erectile dysfunction, hair loss, vaginal dryness, diabetes, restless leg, fibromyalgia, can’t get to sleep, dry eyes. More medications. Seasonal allergies, dry skin, not enough pep, too much pep. You name it, and we have a pill for it.

I love the ads. A couple sitting in two bathtubs overlooking a lake (really?) and we are told he is ready when the moment is right. A young woman relieved of her seasonal allergies – with a pill every day forever – walking her dog through a field. We are so entranced by the scenery that we often don’t hear the side effects given by the muffled, auctioneer-speed voice at the end of the commercial, telling us that these pills which fix so much can lead to anything from weight gain (great for diabetics) to anal leakage (wonderful on a date) to death.

So, why have we succumbed to creating a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry in this country? Because yes, indeed, we, the willing public, have created it.

Part of it is our discomfort with delayed gratification. And part of it is the never-ending barrage of advertisements.

Have a headache. Do we think about whether or not we have hydrated enough today. No, that would mean time. So we take a pill.

Indigestion. Do we stop to think about what we have eaten and its impact on us – or if we have eaten while stressed. Do we take a swig of goat milk or a little lemon water – both great remedies for that burning sensation. Nope. We pop a pill. In fact, we now pop pills for indigestion before we eat, allowing us to overeat with impunity. Maybe that has something to do with more than 50 percent of Americans now being overweight – and more than 50 percent of them being obese.

I could go on and on with examples, but the real point here is, we need to stop over-medicating. We need to start taking some responsibility for our health. Want your blood pressure, your cholesterol, your blood sugar back in normal range. Try diet and exercise because all the pills you can take for those things have side effects – and many of them are dire.

Pills lead to more pills. You cannot take a medication without it impacting something in your body. And pills are not a cure; they simply address symptoms.

There is a time and place for medications. Some people, no matter how carefully they diet, cannot keep their cholesterol down. Some have chemical imbalances that cause bi-polar disorder or depression. Some have type 1 diabetes. And there are times when antibiotics are imperative. But all too often we take pills because they are the easy answer, because we have been conditioned to do so.

So next time you see an ad for a medication, listen to that quiet warning at the end. Sometimes it will make you laugh, but what it should do is scare you – and remind you that there is a price for convenience, a price you don’t have to pay when you are proactive in handling whatever you can about your health and well-being. And remind yourself that medication should be the last resort, not the first.